16 April 2010

Milestone Radar

After 15 seasons, might be a good time to see what legends in the making are reaching, or now have in pocket, some big-time digits. Baseball is, after all, a game for geeks to think about numbers. So chew on this:

Evan Moore needs 812 official At Bats to reach 10,000. He's 36 and not under contract for S17. May not happen. However, Moore is just 77 hits shy of being the first Capra-ite to cross the 3,000 barrier. Almost a cinch to happen this season.

Minnesota's Rudy Lombardi is 40 round trippers shy of 700, but after kissing it goodbye just 15 times last season, the 35 year-old will likely run out of gas before entering Aaron and Ruth country(take that, Barry).

He holds virtually every all-time pitching record in Capra, and Brett Tracy is also just 23 Quality Starts shy of 400. No one else has as many as 250. Tracy also needs 18 wins to reach 300. With two more years on his contract, this should be no problem.

Last season David Wanatabe surpassed Nerio Miller to become the all-time Saves leader and then cruised past the 500 mark. The 35 year-old is at 503 in this the final year of his contract, but he's also coming off his best season ever.

Maintaineers S16 Preview

No, son, Season 15 wasn’t the year for Vancouver. It was however, a historic year for the franchise as the first ever division title. I fully expected the World Series winner to come from the NL West but our friends in the AL did not cooperate.

So what happened in the playoffs? Maybe I over managed the pitching rotation by looking too much at home and away records which moved my ace to the third start of the series. That may have put too much stress on the 22 year old hurlers who started game one and two. The bigger disappointment was lack of hitting, for a team that lead the league in runs scored. So hats off to the pitching that stopped my hitters.

It is not surprising that this is my best rotation ever. I had four starters win between 13 and 16 games each and the fifth spot was over .500. The bull pen converted 55 of 68 save opportunities. Nunez allowed zero of thirty-three inherited runners to score! All that success brought pitching coach Brian Peterson a $1.3M raise. Good thing I am printing greenbacks in the back room. There was a franchise record six All-Stars.

On to Season 16

The core of the rotation is in tact; Paul Hayashi, Santiago Silva, Jamie Bradley and Esteban Calles return. Hayashi is the franchise leader in career wins at 114. In Season 15 he tied his season win high at 16 and had his second lowest ERA. Silva had the breakout year of his career with 15 wins, after going a combined 11-18 the two prior years. He has a new three-year contract. Bradley, the number 6 pick of Season 11, went 13-7 in his third big league season with a career low 1.28 WHIP. He is 23 years old with 32 major league wins. Calles was Season 11 International Free Agent from Dominica. He went 16-8 in his second season in the majors.

Rookie Fernando Soriano won the fifth spot in spring training. He was 15-9 at AAA last year and had success as a September call-up with a 1.09 WHIP in 23 IP. He throws a nasty sinker and keeps batters off balance with an above average fast ball.

The closer and setup relievers all are returning. Rip Robinson saved 33 of 38 games. Set up man, Lou O’Brien, lowered his ERA to 3.30 from the prior year’s 4.35. Rookie Billy Bush owned the 7th inning with a 3.29 ERA. The long relievers are Hayes Griffin, Domingo Vasquez and rookie Jerry McMurtry. Griffin, age 27, has 60 major league starts, so he could be the swing man if needed. He had a career best 1.30 WHIP. Vasquez is a fourth year pro and appeared in 17 major league games last year. McMurtry is a ground ball pitcher who gets the ball to plate quickly.

Gone from the every day players is shortstop Danny Carlson. He had a career year at the plate and cashed in on free agency. The plus from that will be the 28th and 34th picks in the draft this summer.

On to the position players: Third baseman Terry Sturtze led the team in RBI’s and collected a gold glove for his mantle. Stan Lee moved to first base and made 10 plus plays. He had 96 RBI’s and 26 stolen bases. Brian Winston became the full-time right fielder and had career highs in home runs and RBIs and also had 13 assists. Catcher Jimmie Franco had his usual 1+ OPS season and improved his team’s ERA for the fourth consecutive year. The ageless one, Garrett Stewart, had his fifth consecutive.300+ season average. Second baseman Nate Cochrane is the catalyst of the offense. He had 72 stolen bases. Rookie Russell Steinbach will patrol right field. He has potential to be a five tool player. He has excellent range and a rifle for an arm. Rookie Victor O’Donnell is slated to start at shortstop. He is a defensive specialist with an AAA Gold Glove and has some pop to his bat. The Maintaineers should have even more double plays this year than last year.

In summary, this team is young, talented and exciting to watch. To quote Bum Phillips, “We are gonna kick in the door to the playoffs.”

17 March 2010

Is This the Year for the Maintaineers?

The buzz in Vancouver will continue for at least a few more days. Canada’s Los Angeles has been the centre (sic) of sports headlines for more than a month with the XXI Winter Olympics coming to town. Quietly, the Vancouver Maintaineers National League Baseball Club has bided its time, patiently building up its case. For the first time in team history, the Maintaineers have a division crown. It’s not just any division’s championship, however; Vancouver paced the Western Division field that had four of the six best records in the NL. Vancouver made the playoffs for just the second time, and as a first also benefited from a first-round bye.

Vancouver went 45-38 (unofficially) from the time the Olympics came to town to the end of the season. Given that distraction and the intense competition in-division, that’s not bad. More impressively, the club was 97-65 overall. The team comes complete with a balanced offense (5 players with at least 22 home runs and 88 RBI) and a rotation built for the playoffs.

Offensively, franchise cornerstones Stan Lee at first base and Danny Carlson, who plays shortstop, are two of the five aforementioned men. Nate Cochrane has been the ideal table-setter for them this season. He combines a .365 on-base percentage with 72 stolen bases on 77 attempts in the regular season. Playoff catchers will have their hands full with his running ways. The other three cogs in the Maintaineers' boppers are right fielder Brian Winston, third baseman Terry Sturtze, and catcher Jimmie Franco. Franco led the team in slugging and home runs while Lee cranked out a 20/20 season.
Vancouver can afford to put Hayes Griffin in the bullpen and let starting pitchers Jamie Bradley, Paul Hayashi, and Esteban Calles carry the starting load. A capable Rip Robinson, in his second season as closer, will likely own the 9th inning in any game they lead. Bradley, a 22-year-old righty, could get the ball in Game 1 against Vancouver’s Division Series dance partner, the Minnesota North Stars.

That’s where things get interesting. Minnesota’s Chief of Baseball Operations is the son of Vancouver’s executive, and throughout the season they have been jockeying for optimal playoff position. Minnesota has backed into October, going 17-22 down the stretch and almost giving away a double-digit division lead to hated New York. This came despite getting reinforcements at the dish and on the mound. The North Stars’ third starter, Don Chang, was a Colt 45 a few months ago and first baseman Bruce Harper came over from Scottsdale in the high-profile deal of the summer. Less heralded but perhaps more important was the acquisition of third-baseman Moose Norton in a salary dump at mid-season. It’s not that Harper has disappointed, but Norton played 75 games and Harper just 48 by season’s end. Norton was the shot in the arm that the club needed from the hot corner. Minnesota ace Kelly Grace is likely the Cy Young Award winner for season 15, but he was needed to rescue the team from a first-round exit via Anaheim, and will likely not pitch until game 4.

So, with family bragging rights on the line, will Vancouver get to continue its party? Or, is Minnesota’s chemistry experiment starting to just now pay off? That’s what these playoffs will decide.

17 February 2010

I beg to differ Roadrunners!

Cold storage? Try front and center Mr. Chaspazzzzzz.

Ahhhhh, the thrill of victory, even if from the past can't me masked by the slings and arrows of a fortuitous champion.

I believe one of those flag enshrouded baseball hardware was taken from yer flight-challenged peepers. No shrill attacks, misplaced witticism or smudge campaigns can tarnish their luster. I was the WS champion, TWICE, and that can never been taken from me. Hail Archers! Now on to my campaign to equal the great Yogi Berra.

The NL-West shall rise a'gen, cuz yur either fur us, or yous a'gen us! The Archers shall over come.