Thursday, December 16, 2010

Victoria to land semi-pro baseball team?

I heard an interesting rumour recently that a "professional" baseball team might be headed back to Victoria. Now keep in mind that this rumour is entirely unsubstantiated at this point, but it's somewhat believable given the quote from Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin in the Times-Colonist article of November 21, 2010.

Apparently, the geography of the league might even allow the Victoria team to travel exclusively by bus, which would certainly help the financial viability of the franchise. I did some research to try and identify this league and the likeliest possibility is the Western Major Baseball League (WMBL), a collegiate semi-pro summer league that currently has 11 teams based in Alberta and Saskatchewan. I tried to confirm the rumour by sending an email to the WMBL President earlier today, but we have not received a reply as of yet.

The WMBL is an extremely stable league with an impressive 56-year history. The league is like a Canadian version of the prestigious Cape Cod League. Team rosters are made up of current and recent college players and unlike college ball, a wood bat is used. The league plays a 45-game regular season that begins on the first weekend in June and playoffs take place starting in late July.

Seals fans may remember that Jeff Duda made the jump from the WMBL to the GBL this past summer. In fact, Duda's old team, the Okotoks Dawgs, led the league in attendance in 2010 with an average of 2,174 fans per game.

In another piece of exciting news, Cranbrook BC was granted a conditional WMBL franchise just yesterday. If plans to build a new ballpark in Cranbrook unfold as expected, their new team could begin play in 2013. And check out what WMBL President Kevin Kvame had to say about the expansion team in Cranbrook:
President of the WMBL, Kevin Kvame, is looking forward to his league taking its first step into British Columbia. "The pitch that was made by the Cranbrook Group was very strong, and we see it as a good fit for our league's future plans. Cranbrook is an ideal candidate for expansion - it is a reasonable distance for travel, has a strong business community, a long history of baseball, and a proven track record of supporting its sport franchises.
Could this mean that the league is poised to make additional steps into British Columbia? We'll have to wait and see.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Ex-Seal Bibens-Dirkx survives Rule V Draft

Former Victoria Seals pitcher Austin Bibens-Dirkx was left unprotected by the Chicago Cubs for today's Rule V Draft, but he wasn't one of the 19 players selected. That means that he will remain in the Cubs' system and will likely be attending their spring training camp as a non-roster invitee. The Cubs' pitchers and catchers are set to report to camp in Mesa, Arizona in mid-February and it will be interesting to see if the ex-Seal can start the season with the big club.

Seal Blubber Bits
  • Two other former Seals will re-start their affiliated professional careers in the spring. Anthony Pluta will be pitching in the Los Angeles Angels system and Chris Bodisbaugh will start the year with one of the farm teams of the Chicago White Sox.
  • Friday is Baseball Bloggers Alliance Day. The Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA) was formed in 2009 and now includes over 230 blogs dedicated entirely to baseball. For more information on the alliance, check out an interesting interview with the BBA founder, Daniel Shoptaw.
  • Despite much initial fanfare, the North American League seems to be going nowhere. One of the ex-Northern League teams, the Joliet Jackhammers now have a tentative deal to join the Frontier League. For more details on the North American League's issues, see the article that was recently published in the Winnipeg Free Press. Keep in mind that the piece is written from a Winnipeg perspective and that their team, the Goldeyes, will be joining the relatively stable American Association in 2011.
  • The man who was the voice of the Montreal Expos for their first 32 years of existence, Dave Van Horne, has been named the winner of the Baseball Hall of Fame's Ford Frick Award. According to Wikipedia, the award is given to a broadcaster for "major contributions to baseball". Van Horne will receive the award at the HoF induction ceremonies on the 24th of July.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

2010 MLB Awards – Bloggers vs. Journalists

As regular readers of our blog will know, we at the Victoria Seals Baseball Blog (VSBB) cast ballots for the Baseball Bloggers Alliance’s end-of-year Major League Baseball awards. These awards are similar to those given out by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA), although the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA) has one additional category: The Goose Gossage Award for the top reliever in each league.

When voting started, I was interested in seeing how much difference there would be between the awards given out by the bloggers versus the traditional journalists. After compiling the results, I was taken aback by what I saw:

BBWAA (Journalists)
BBA (Bloggers)
NL Manager of Year / Connie Mack Award
Bud Black, SD
Bud Black, SD
AL Manager of Year / Connie Mack Award
Ron Gardenhire, MIN
Ron Washington, TEX
NL Rookie of the Year / Willie Mays Award
Buster Posey, SF
Buster Posey, SF
AL Rookie of the Year / Willie Mays Award
Neftali Feliz, TEX
Neftali Feliz, TEX
NL Goose Gossage Award
Brian Wilson, SF
AL Goose Gossage Award
Rafael Soriano, TB
NL Cy Young Award / Walter Johnson Award
Roy Halladay, PHI
Roy Halladay, PHI
AL Cy Young Award / Walter Johnson Award
Felix Hernandex, SEA
Felix Hernandex, SEA
NL MVP / Stan Musial Award
Joey Votto, CIN
Joey Votto, CIN
AL MVP / Stan Musial Award
Josh Hamilton, TEX
Josh Hamilton, TEX

Surprisingly, there isn’t much difference between the awards handed out by the journalists and the bloggers. Of the eight awards in common between the two organizations, seven had identical winners. The only difference was in the AL Manager of the Year where the bloggers gave it to Ron Washington over Ron Gardenhire by a slim 74-67 vote, but the journalists gave it to Gardenhire over Washington by wide margin (108 to 81). Even in this category, I wouldn’t classify the difference as radical by any stretch.

I must admit that I was surprised to see the BBWAA award the AL Cy Young to Felix Hernandez, who only sported a 13-12 record thanks to the punch-less Seattle Mariners offense. Of course, Hernandez deserved the award buy compiling a league-leading 2.27 ERA in addition to a 1.06 WHIP and 232 strikeouts in 249 2/3 innings. But many times in baseball history, the baseball writers have given the Cy Young Award to a pitcher with an impressive won-loss record over a pitcher with better underlying statistics. The most recent example is from 2005, when the AL Cy Young went to Bartolo Colon (21-8, 3.48 ERA, 1.16 WHIP) and Johan Santana (16-7, 2.87 ERA, 0.97 WHIP) of the Twins finished third in voting.

Based on Hernandez’s win, I think it’s safe to declare that the BBWAA’s over-emphasis on wins is (thankfully) over. A major reason why this has happened is the turnover of BBWAA members in recent years. ESPN writers such as Rob Neyer, Keith Law, Jim Caple and Jayson Stark have been added as members and they are all well-versed in modern Sabermetrics. Nobody has to explain to them why pitching wins is an over-rated statistics.

In fact, many members of the mainstream media are finally getting on board the Sabermetric bandwagon. The Associated Press article announcing Hernandez’s win even mentioned the granddaddy of Sabermetric measures – Wins Above Replacement. It’s enough to make a geek break into tears of joy.

Of course, we shouldn’t get carried away praising the BBWAA for its recent modernization kick. Earlier today, the BBWAA rejected a motion by Jayson Stark to add an award honouring the best reliever in each league. The reason given? The award would always end up going to the reliever with the most saves! Although the Baseball Bloggers Alliance has inaugurated the Goose Gossage Award, the journalists couldn’t find it in their heart to add a new award to recognize the great work of hurlers such as Brian Wilson and Rafael Soriano. Keep trying Mr. Stark. We’re sure another BBWAA breakthrough can’t be far off.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ex-Seal Bibens-Dirkx to make the Cubs in 2011?

Former Victoria Seals pitcher Austin Bibens-Dirkx continued his ascent to the big leagues by pitching in the Venezuelan Winter League this off-season. In fact, a Chicago Cubs blogger is touting Bibens-Dirkx as a candidate for the Cubs' bullpen in 2011.

Bibens-Dirkx played for Ćguilas del Zulia until his contract ran out on November 20th. In seven starts for Zulia, he posted a 2-2 record with a sparkling 1.60 ERA and 1.01 WHIP. Those are very impressive numbers considering the quality of hitters in the Venezuelan Winter League.

Austin played this past season for the Tennessee Smokies (AA) and the Iowa Cubs (AAA) and had a combined 10-7 record with a 3.78 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. He also held opponents to a .224 batting average and had 2.1 strikeouts for every walk surrendered.

You may remember that the Cubs signed Bibens-Dirkx when he was with the Seals on July 3, 2009. At the time of his signing, he was leading the Golden Baseball League with 54 strikeouts in 48 2/3 innings pitched.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle to Bibens-Dirkx suiting up with the Chicago Cubs next year might be looming in the next week, since the Cubbies left him unprotected for the Rule V Draft. This draft of veteran minor-leaguers takes place at the upcoming Baseball Winter Meetings in Orlando, Florida (December 6th to 9th). The smart money is on Bibens-Dirkx becoming the first ex-Seal to appear at the MLB level. In about a week's time we should know the organization with which he'll continue the journey.

See more of our past coverage of Austin Bibens-Dirkx.

Download our iPhone app!

The Victoria Seals Baseball Blog and 76 other blogs in the Baseball Bloggers Alliance now have an iPhone app! The app is free and it's compatible with the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. An Android version will follow soon.

To download the app go to the Apple web site.

Thanks to Julian Levine of Splashing Pumpkins (an excellent blog on the San Francisco Giants) and Notice Software for making this happen.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

GBL morphs into North American League

Friday's announcement that the remaining teams in the Golden, Northern and United Baseball Leagues were merging came as no surprise. The GBL will indeed absorb the other two troubled independent leagues and form the North American League. The new circuit, which will be the largest professional baseball league outside of the big leagues, will likely play the 2011 season with between 16 and 20 teams.

Contrary to the previously-rumoured divisional alignment, the new league will probably play with three divisions -- one for each of the now defunct leagues. Effectively, the three independent leagues are pooling resources to try and survive. We'll see if that strategy works, but there's no guarantee that the new North American League will even make it through the upcoming season.

Given how this scenario is playing out, it's not a shock that the Victoria Seals decided to cease operations less than two weeks ago. North American League teams are expected to play 75% of their games within their division and 25% against the two other divisions. In 2010 terms, that means the Seals would have played three-quarters of their games against GBL teams: Edmonton, Calgary, Maui (which came under new ownership a few days ago), Tijuana (an expansion team that will be known as the Embajadores) and whichever other teams attempt to make a go of it (likely league-owned teams based in Arizona and California). However, the remaining Seals games would have been played against clubs from the old Northern and United Leagues, which are based entirely in Illinois and Texas. That's way too much travel for an independent-league team.

As a baseball fan, I really hope that the new league survives. But they sure are faced with an uphill climb.

Seal Blubber Bits
  • The Times-Colonist reported that Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin has been approached by a local group regarding the possible return of professional baseball. No details were provided by the tight-lipped mayor. 
  • In the same article, Brian Rios was quoted as saying that he would likely sign with the Calgary Vipers. So much for his plans to retire...
  • The inaugural league meeting for the North American League will take place at the end of this month in Northern California. I'm sure many more details on the new league will be made public following the conclusion of these meetings.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Media coverage of the Seals' demise - Hmmm...

It has been interesting reading all of the recent stories about the (late?) Victoria Seals in the media.

An alert reader pointed me to an excellent article by Alex Pomerant, the law student who was the man inside the Seamore the Seal costume. The piece paints an interesting picture of what it's like to be the mascot of a professional baseball team and explains what the team meant to the local community. Incidentally, I had the pleasure of pinch-hitting as the mascot in one professional game back in 1999 when I was working for the Asheville Tourists. It was a difficult and smelly job being Ted E. Tourist that night (it was July in North Carolina after all), but it was one of the most memorable nights of a wonderful summer. I totally understand where Alex is coming from.

Tom Hawthorn wrote yet another great article in the Globe and Mail on the Victoria Seals.  In addition to hitting on many of the high points of two fantastic years of Seals baseball, Tom also presents an alternative to the "blame the city" mentality that was so prevalent after the announcement that the Seals were ceasing operations.

Even Ballpark Digest has got into the act by publishing an article comparing the Seals to a canary in a coal mine. The piece concentrates on the second reason given by the Seals' ownership for pulling the plug: the instability of the Golden Baseball League.

Many league observers, myself included, are still trying to figure out the full story regarding the Seals' demise and the related changes coming to the GBL. One observer has even speculated that the Seals could return to an expanded GBL in 2011 with a better lease deal from the City of Victoria and that last week's announcement could have been simply a ploy to improve ownership's bargaining position.

We'll continue to follow this story as it unfolds.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Northern, United and Golden leagues to merge?

Ballpark Digest is reporting that the remaining teams in the Northern and United leagues are about to merge with the Golden Baseball League for the 2011 season. The new league is expected to fly under the banner of the Golden Baseball League.

It appears that the teams will play an abbreviated schedule in 2011 and that there will indeed be the four divisions mentioned in our previous blog post: Canada, Midwest, West Coast and Texas. It's still unclear which teams will make up the Canadian division, since none of the remaining teams in the Northern or United leagues are based in Canada. I can't imagine a two-team division with just Edmonton and Calgary...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Back from the dead?

OK, Seals fans. I am truly confused.

Two days after "ceasing operations", the Victoria Seals have exercised the 2011 contract options for Jeff Duda, Matt Edgecombe, PJ Bevis, Andrew Arreola, Henry Calderon, Mike Koons, Joe Sergent, Jino Gonzalez, Jason Kershner, Terrance McClain, Colin Moro, Wilver Perez, Tim Rodriguez, Charlie Strandlund and Brandon Villafuerte. One can only assume that these options have been exercised in order to give the Seals the right to sell each player to the highest bidder. Or is there more to it?

But wait, there were more surprises today... WREX in Rockford, Illinois is reporting that the Rockford RiverHawks will join the GBL in 2011. In addition, three other Northern League teams (Schaumburg, Joliet and Lake County) are expected to join the GBL and Omaha is another possibility. These moves would gut the Northern League.

Apparently, the GBL might contain 16 or 17 teams next year featuring four divisions: Canada, West, Midwest and Texas. Even if the five aforementioned teams join the GBL, where will the other 12 teams come from? Edmonton and Calgary could obviously be part of the Canadian division, but you can't really have a two-team Canadian division (the Winnipeg Goldeyes just left the Golden League for the American Association). Then again, maybe another league might merge with the GBL.

If you can shed some light on the situation, please leave a comment to this blog post. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Dave Niehaus (1935-2010)

November 10, 2010 has been a terrible day for baseball fans in the Pacific Northwest. Here in Victoria, we learned of the demise of our beloved Seals. Later in the day we got a little perspective on the severity of our loss after finding out about a true tragedy. Dave Niehaus, voice of the Seattle Mariners since their inaugural season in 1977, passed away on Wednesday after suffering a heart attack.

I'll defer to the Associated Press for a recap of his Hall of Fame career and life. But I'd like to offer up the following audio tribute to Mr. Niehaus, courtesy of YouTube. The clip comes from the greatest moment in Mariners' history -- "The Double" -- from 1995. It was one of my most memorable moments as a sports fan and I was lucky to share it with Bubba in the left-field bleachers in the Kingdome.

Dave Niehaus, you will be missed.

City clubs the Seals, ends professional baseball in Victoria

Seals owner Darren Parker greeted some thirty members of the local sports media (including the Seals Baseball Blog) with the same handshakes and casual "thank you for coming" comments you would hear at a funeral. And that is exactly what transpired over the next hour.

"We are disappointed to announce that the Victoria Seals have ceased baseball operations as of today" Darren spoke, much to the surprise of none
of the attendees after rumors started flooding morning news reports, the Times Colonist, and social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

Staff and players were informed yesterday of the situation. General Manager Roxann Bury spent most of the night and early morning texting and talking to players about the situation, and where the Seals go from here.

It's quite clear however, that they go nowhere right now. Many of the key players from last year had already been retained on options, and all of them are disappointed to not be coming back to the city they called their home last summer. No names w
ere given, other than T-Mac, whom Darren expressed as being saddened by the announcement. Immediate tasks for Darren are to find homes for all of his boys, whom you could tell he felt badly for.

Darren himself was noticeably shak
en up at times during the announcement, as were other members of the Seals staff in attendance. Curtis Clarke, Mike Walker and Roxann Bury stood quietly during the conference, hearing many of the comments themselves for the first time.

Most of the conversation around the root cause of why this happened centered around the City of Victoria, and their inability to support and partner with a professional sports team in a city-run venue. Darren was quick to point out that at this level, you
don't run a franchise to make money, you do it because you love the game. Still, you need to at least break even. Over the two years here, the Seals experienced losses mentioned as being "well over a million dollars".

It seems the city treated the Seals like crap, never embracing the "partnership" aspect of the agreement. For instance, being a union facility only city workers could work at the venue. No volunteers were allowed to help - which is the life blood of many small market teams. Even when given advanced warnings that games were selling well, or big crowds were expected, the city was not able to step up to help, and the Seals paid the price. Where big games could have helped fill the needed revenue void, all they did was lower the fan's experience at the park.

The lease was way too high, the revenues from concession and alcohol sales were nowhere near what they should have been, and the facility was
never upgraded as expected. The Seals couldn't acquire sponsors for things such as hot dogs or beer - huge revenue draws for sports teams.

The Seals even asked about buying RAP and managing it, in much the same way as the Salmon Kings ownership group owns the SOFA, and the city's response was a f
lat NO due to more "union agreements". Something about the fact that the facility would be required to sit dormant for two years if sold...

Both Darren Parker and his father Russ, a thirty year veteran of running professional sports teams admitted that with a different venue to play in, or w
ith better city support, the team would have remained viable.

Darren remains the Seals owner, and will remain living here in Victoria with his family. He commented that he has fielded offers from "other Mayors" about options, and would also welcome offers from other ownership groups both local and outside of Victoria. In the back of the room, while all the negative talk about Victoria swirled through the air, Langford Mayor Stu Young stood quietly listening, and checking his em
ail. Langford at this point though, is not a short-term solution, as there is no venue capable of holding the Seals. The future? Who knows.

Darren made special note thanking the fans of Victoria, the corporate support they received, and the dedication of his staff. He pointed to the shared sense of community he had hoped the Seals would bring, and the positive impact the team had on families in the area. Speaking from my own experience, bringing the kids out to the ball park many times over the summer provided moments they will cherish for years. The charity work the Seals did, both on the field with 50/50 sharing, and off the field, were a key part of what the Seals stood for in the community, and will be missed.

Seals' staff members Roxann Bury, Mike Walker, and Curtis Clarke

Was it all about the city though? The GBL will have big problems next year as well, and would have regardless of what happened to Victoria. They are currently in danger of having six or fewer teams in the league - at least two of them league owned, which is not a sustainable model. How much of a factor did the potential demise of the GBL play into the decision is unknown, but it had to have some impact on the decision. There was some talk about other leagues such as the Northern league, but other leagues are having similar issues due to the economy in many cities. Darren was quick to point out that at this level, with these expected revenues, the league has to remain a "bus league" to achieve true success. Having to fly to far-away locations is a killer.

Oh and the scoreboard is for sale as well, if you want to impress your neighborhood, or just keep track of major league games at home...

So that's it blog fans. Over the next while we will spend some time analyzing and recapping, complaining and bitching, and generally feeling sad about the loss of our boys in blue. After that? Who knows. We invite you to share a few last comments, share some stories of the old boy if you like, and take this one out with a bang. Damn guys, we hardly knew ya. Rest in Peace.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Bad news for Seals fans?

Check out the press release from the Seals this afternoon:

Press conference called for Wednesday at 1:00 p.m.
For Immediate Release
Tuesday November 9, 2010
Victoria, BC – The Victoria Seals announce that they will be holding a press conference to make a major announcement regarding the future of the franchise tomorrow afternoon at 1:00 p.m. (PT)... 

We have known for some time that most of the teams in the GBL are in dire straights. My hope was that somehow we'd see the three solid Canadian clubs in the GBL survive, perhaps by merging with another independent league. It looks like that might not happen. Stay tuned for more details as they become available.

It appears that the Seals are folding. The T-C seems to have been granted an inside scoop on the story.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Take me out to the ball game

While I was travelling last week, I helped pass the time by re-watching a couple of innings of the original Baseball documentary by Ken Burns on the Air Canada entertainment system. One of the innings features the wonderful version of Take Me Out to the Ball Game by Carly Simon and I immediately made a mental note to put up a blog post about it.

Most of us know the song from the seventh-inning stretch at baseball games, but what not everyone realizes is that the version normally sung at the ballpark is only the chorus and that the full lyrics contain a little-known and somewhat unconventional story. The complete lyrics to the song, which was composed in 1908 by Jack Norworth, are shown below:

Katie Casey was baseball mad,
Had the fever and had it bad.
Just to root for the home town crew,
Ev'ry sou
Katie blew.
On a Saturday her young beau
Called to see if she'd like to go
To see a show, but Miss Kate said "No,
I'll tell you what you can do:"


Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd;
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,
I don't care if I never get back.
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win, it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
At the old ball game.

Katie Casey saw all the games,

Knew the players by their first names.
Told the umpire he was wrong,
All along,
Good and strong.
When the score was just two to two,
Katie Casey knew what to do,
Just to cheer up the boys she knew,
She made the gang sing this song:

[repeat Chorus]

Note (Courtesy of Wikipedia): The term "sou", now obscure, was at the time common slang for a low-denomination coin. Carly Simon's version, produced for Ken Burns' 1994 documentary Baseball, reads "Ev'ry cent / Katie spent".

What I find interesting is that it's the female character in the song that wants to go to the ballgame, even though her boyfriend suggested that they take in a show. It obviously wasn't out of the ordinary to be a female super-fan back in 1908, otherwise Jack Norworth wouldn't have created a song based on such a keen female "rooter". In any event, the full Carly Simon version sure would sound good at Royal Athletic Park, don't ya think?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Pluta signed by LA Angels

Congratulations to Anthony Pluta for signing a minor-league contract with the Los Angeles Angels!

Pluta is the fifth Victoria Seals player to be signed by a major-league organization in the Seals' brief two-year history. The signing comes less than two weeks after Chris Bodishbaugh inked a contract with the Chicago White Sox.

The other three Seals to sign with a big-league organization were Austin Bibens-Dirkx (Cubs, 2009), Isaac Hess (Red Sox, 2009) and Sergio Pedroza (Dodgers, 2010).

For more info, see the press release from the Victoria Seals.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Stan Musial Award ballot

The Victoria Seals Baseball Blog (VSBB) is a proud member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA). This year, the VSBB has the honour of casting the Other Baseball Chapter ballot for each of the five awards given to players and managers in both the National and American Leagues.

Last Thursday, we posted our ballot for the Walter Johnson Award, presented to the top pitcher in each league. Yesterday morning, the alliance announced the results: Philadelphia's Roy Halladay and Seattle's Felix Hernandez were runaway winners in their respective leagues. In fact, Halladay was a unanimous selection by the Baseball Bloggers Alliance. Today we present the VSBB ballot for the final award, named after Stan Musial. The Stan Musial Award goes to the MVP in each league. Casting the ballot on behalf of the VSBB is guest blogger Michael Poplawski.

National League

The National League charts were topped by a pair of slugging first basemen from the Central division: perennial MVP Albert Pujols, who led the NL in runs, home runs and RBI and rising star Joey Votto, who led the NL in OBP and SLG. There was little to choose between them, but I've gone with the division-winning Cincinnati Reds' Votto over the St. Louis Cardinals' Pujols.

My third-place vote goes to my Walter Johnson choice Roy Halladay.

1. Joey Votto 1B (150 GP, 174 OPS+ 6.2 WAR)
2. Albert Pujols 1B (159 GP, 173 OPS+ 7.2 WAR)
3. Roy Halladay SP (33 GS, 165 ERA+, 6.5 WAR)
4. Adrian Gonzalez 1B (160 GP, 152 OPS+, 6.3 WAR)
5. Ryan Zimmerman 3B (142 GP, 142 OPS+, 5.3 WAR)
6. Matt Holliday LF 158 GP, 149 OPS+, 5.5 WAR)
7. Troy Tulowitzki SS (122 GP, 138 OPS+, 5.6 WAR)
8. Ubaldo Jiminez SP (33 GS, 161 ERA+, 7.1 WAR)
9. Aubrey Huff 1B-OF (157 GP, 138 OPS+, 5.9 WAR)
10. Carlos Gonzalez OF (145 GP, 143 OPS+, 4.5 WAR)

American League

In the American League, my top three choices came from three playoff-bound teams. I gave top billing to Evan Longoria, who provided the Tampa Bay Rays the most solid third base play in the major leagues as well as his potent bat. Runner-up is the Texas Rangers' Josh Hamilton, who also was solid all-around but, unfortunately, missed 29 games. Third place goes to New York Yankees stalwart infielder Robinson Cano.

1. Evan Longoria 3B (151 GP, 142 OPS+, 7.7 WAR)
2. Josh Hamilton OF (133 GP, 175 OPS+, 6.0 WAR)
3. Robinson Cano 2B (160 GP, 142 OPS+, 6.1 WAR)
4. Shin-Soo Choo RF (144 GP, 148 OPS+, 7.3 WAR)
5. Adrian Beltre 3B (154 GP, 141 OPS+, 6.1 WAR)
6. Miguel Cabrera 1B (150 GP, 179 OPS+, 6.9 WAR)
7. Felix Hernandez SP (34 GS, 174 ERA+, 6.0 WAR)
8. Jose Bautista RF-3B (161 GP, 166 OPS+, 5.6 WAR)
9. Carl Crawford LF (154 GP, 134 OPS+, 4.8 WAR)
10. Joe Mauer C-DH (137 GP, 137 OPS+, 5.6 WAR)

- Michael Poplawski

Tucson Toros to sit out 2011

The GBL will be without the Tucson Toros in 2011, as the team announced that it will taking a one-year hiatus. The decision was prompted by the temporary re-location of the Portland Beavers to Tucson Electric Park. With a AAA team in town next year, it didn't make sense for the Toros to play their 2011 GBL season in Hi Corbett Field.

The Beavers were forced to leave Portland after their ballpark was converted for use by an MLS (soccer) team. The Beavers will obviously be renamed and they'll move into a new $45M ballpark in Escondido, California in 2012.

The (hopefully) temporary loss of the Toros is still a big blow to the Golden Baseball League, as the Tucson franchise has led the GBL in attendance for the past two seasons. The Toros joined the GBL back in 2009, the same year as the Victoria Seals. Right now the only rock-solid franchises in the league are Victoria, Calgary and Edmonton. It will be interesting to see how many teams are part of the GBL next season, but I wouldn't be surprised to see a number of league-owned teams participating to ensure that the league operates with a minimum of six teams.

For more info on the Tucson situation, including an interview with Toros' owner Jay Zucker, click here.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fifteen questions with Seals GM Roxann Bury

As part of our off-season commitment to keeping your lives full of Seals news, we promised to bring you exclusive interviews with key members of the Seals staff. We are happy to present the first of those interviews - Seals General Manager Roxann Bury.

Early last season, Roxann was promoted to General Manager of the Victoria Seals baseball club. As a GM, she experienced the day-to-day operations of the club at a whole new level, put in countless hours at the ballpark, and even took over the on-field promotional duties midway through the season. Roxann took the time to answer our questions about life in the Seals front office...

What is the best part about working for a professional baseball team?

Every day is an exciting challenge. We have an opportunity to create events and entertain people. It's really rewarding to know that if people chose to attend a Seals game that I had a little bit to do with the great night they will have.

How did you get your start in professional sports management?

My first position was Community Relations and Promotions Coordinator for the Calgary Cannons (AAA). I was in my second year of a Broadcasting Diploma and met the GM at a Sports Forum hosted by the College. He told me about the position, I applied and that became my first summer in the sun!

What was your favourite sport growing up? Any favourite teams or players?

I grew up in Kamloops where your first love is Hockey. I was a big fan of the Blazers, a season ticket holder for 6 years. My NHL team was the LA Kings and I was a Gretzky fan.

There aren’t very many female General Managers or even Assistant GMs in professional baseball. Have you faced any additional challenges because of your gender?

I think in any profession you face challenges, but I haven’t really had any incidents that I would directly say were a situation because of my gender. I've worked with really great owners and on field staff. They respect me and I respect them.

What is the most difficult aspect of your job?

Not enough hours in the day! During the season there is more Team/Operations work, but I still have to be on top of the Marketing and Entertainment. It's a fine balance to allow enough time for both of the sides.

Do you see yourself as a bit of a role model for women in sports management?

I hope that if anyone is looking at my career and feeling inspired it’s because of the accomplishments of the organizations I’ve been a part of. If someone now believes they can peruse a sports career or decided on a career in sports because of the role that I am in then I am proud to be a woman working in sports.

What goes on in the Seals front-office in the off-season?

The off season is a time where we evaluate and look at where we can improve and build from the foundations set in the previous season. We develop our marketing, sales and media plans and then put them into motion. Once we have a schedule (usually early January) we start to look at travel and team operations. It's a busy, but really fun time. We get to be creative and innovative and excited about the upcoming season.

Talk about the 2010 Seals season. Everything you expected it to be?

I was happy with the 2010 season. We set goals to improve both on and off the field and accomplished both of those. Our winning percentage was up, but as we look to 2011 we still need to get that Win/Loss record more in our favour! We wanted to utilize the scoreboard in the 2010 season; the additions of headshot/stats graphics, pre produced video clips and on field replays enhanced our in game entertainment. We will continue to explore all that we can do with our video board to provide top quality entertainment for our fans.

What has been your favourite moment since joining the Seals organization?

On July 27th when Eri Yoshida started for Chico I took a second to watch her throw her first pitch. I love knowing that the Victoria Seals have a little piece of history in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Her start marked the first time a woman has played in professional games in 3 countries.
I love watching the game from deep right field, down past our bull pen late in the game. Around the 8th inning in on a crisp June night there is the most beautiful sun set that drops between homeplate and 3rd base. It makes me so grateful that I work in baseball and get to have that scene as my office!

Any low-lights?

Not fully remembering the 2009 Home Opener! I remember having a conversation with Darren (Parker, President) on the concourse about ½ hour before gates open ~ we were going through a mental checklist of things ensuring we were ready. Then I remember covering the pitchers mound with a tarp post game. The rest of the night is a blur! I know we had our opening ceremonies, first pitch and our promotions ran smoothly. I really wish I remembered some of the details or had stopped and just enjoyed that special night for what it was; the first game in the Victoria Seals history!

Do you normally travel with the team when they are on the road? Where’s your favourite road trip in the GBL and why?

I don’t normally travel with the team, but I have been to parks in Calgary, Edmonton, St George, and Tucson. I enjoy Calgary as I lived there for 10 years so it is sort of like going home. I have some great memories of Foothills Stadium as a fan and from my years of working for the Cannons.

How many players are under contract with the Seals for the 2011 season? Are there any names you can share with us?

Most of the contracts signed in the GBL are 2 year deals. They are second year club option which means the organization has the opportunity to exercise their options with the players. There will be more details on this in the next few weeks as the deadline to exercise those options is November 15th.

Do you have any changes in store for 2010 to further enhance the fan experience at RAP?

We are focusing on some of the details of our game night entertainment. I expect that you will see more giveaways, more prizes, different on field promotions and more interaction with our fans. We really try to be what minor league baseball allows us to be; fan friendly, fun, affordable and really entertaining.

A few tough times at the park this year. Are you expecting the city to step up a bit more next year, given two solid years of success?

The Venue / tenant relationship is always that one of the Chicken and Egg. It’s hard to invest in improvements for an organization when you don’t know if they will survive, but it’s tough for an organization to survive if there are not necessary improvements. I think that the Seals have proved to be a solid business, and we are dedicated to being a successful entertainment choice for Greater Victoria. Royal Athletic Park upgraded its audio system in 2010 and I hope that more improvements like that to give the fans a better overall experience will continue to happen as we look to 2011.

How much fun is it doing the on-field promotions?

The on field promotions are a blast! I am lucky that I don’t have a fear of public speaking or being in front of crowds. I like being able to meet and talk to our fans. One of my favourite things was seeing a contestant we had for a promo out at another game a few weeks later. I knew that they had a great time and were coming back again. We are going to try and shake up the promos for next year to hopefully make them even more exciting to watch and participate in.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

VSBB ballot for the Walter Johnson Award

The Victoria Seals Baseball Blog (VSBB) is a proud member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA). This year, the VSBB has the honour of casting the Other Baseball Chapter ballot for each of the five awards given to players and managers in both the National and American Leagues.

On Monday, we posted our ballot for the Goose Gossage Award, presented to the top reliever in each league. This morning, the alliance announced the results: San Francisco's Brian Wilson and Rafael Soriano of the Tampa Bay Rays were named the winners in their respective leagues. Today we present the VSBB ballot for the Walter Johnson Award, presented to the top pitcher in each league. Casting the ballot on behalf of the VSBB is guest blogger Michael Poplawski.

I didn't see any relief pitchers really show the kind of dominance that would bring them on par with the best starters this season, so my ballot is loaded with starting pitchers for both leagues. Here we go...

National League

The Philadelphia Phillies' Roy Halladay switched leagues but his excellence remained in a season where he led the majors in ERA, wins, complete games and shutouts. To top it off, he tossed MLB's 20th perfect game of all time. Key stats: 33 Starts, 25 Quality Starts (QS), 250.2 IP, 30 BB, 219 SO, 165 ERA+, 6.5 Wins Above Replacement (WAR).

Ubaldo Jiminez had a remarkable start to the season, earning wins in 15 of his first 16 decisions for the Colorado Rockies. Key stats: 33 GS, 25 QS, 221.2 IP, 92 BB, 214 SO, 161 ERA+, 6.5 WAR.

Adam Wainwright was again the ace for the St. Louis Cardinals, reaching 20 wins for the first time in his career. Key stats: 33 GS, 25 QS, 56 BB, 213 SO, 161 ERA+, 6.1 WAR.

Tim Hudson is back! His return as the Atlanta Braves rotation anchor helped lead them back into postseason territory once again. Key stats: 34 GS, 25 QS, 74 BB, 139 SO, 138 ERA+, 5.7 WAR.

Josh Johnson was the NL's ERA+ leader for the Florida Marlins in a somewhat shortened season. Key stats: 28 GS, 23 QS, 48 BB, 186 SO, 182 ERA+, 5.9 WAR.

1. Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies
2. Ubaldo Jiminez, Colorado Rockies
3. Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals
4. Tim Hudson, Atlanta Braves
5. Josh Johnson, Florida Marlins

American League

The choice for me in the American League was the Seattle Mariners’ Felix Hernandez, who led the majors in batters faced, ERA, and pitched consistently throughout the season. Unfortunately, the awful run support provided by the Mariners left him with a 13-12 record to go with his sparkling 2.27 ERA. We're not going to penalize him for his poor-hitting teammates. Key stats: 34 Starts, 30 Quality Starts, 6 CG, 1 ShO, 249.2 IP, 70 BB, 232 SO, 174 ERA+, 6.0 WAR.

The Los Angeles Angels' Jered Weaver was another pitcher who could sue for a lack of support. The majors' strikeout leader had two or fewer runs to work with 12 times (compare with Hernandez's 15 and Sabathia's 7). His lack of run support left him with a 13-12 record as well, but that mark masks a brilliant season. Key stats: 34 GS, 27 QS, 224.1 IP, 54 BB, 233 SO, 135 ERA+, 5.4 WAR.

CC Sabathia had another excellent year for the playoff-bound New York Yankees. Key stats: 34 GS, 26 QS, 237.2 IP, 74 BB, 197 SO, 134 ERA+, 5.4 WAR.

David Price was the Tampa Bay Rays' consistent ace in their division-winning effort. Key stats: 31 GS, 25 QS, 79 BB, 199 SO, 145 ERA+ 5.3 WAR.

The Boston Red Sox' Jon Lester led the majors in ERA+ in a season shortened by injury. By far the best value for money on my ballot, earning a mere $500,000. Key stats: 28 GS, 19 QS, 67 BB, 120 SO, 187 ERA+, 5.4 WAR.

1. Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners
2. Jered Weaver, Los Angeles Angels
3. CC Sabathia, New York Yankees
4. David Price, Tampa Bay Rays
5. Jon Lester, Boston Red Sox

- Michael Poplawski

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Bodishbaugh signs with Chicago White Sox

Chris Bodishbaugh became the fourth Victoria Seals player to sign with a major-league organization on Monday by securing a minor-league contract with the Chicago White Sox. Bodishbaugh went 1-3 with a 3.30 ERA in a whopping 40 appearances with the Seals last year -- all but three of which were in relief. His late-season performance was a big help in getting Victoria into their first pennant race in franchise history. Setting his first four appearances aside, "Bodi" had a sparkling 2.35 ERA in his last 36 games.

Bodishbaugh struck out an impressive 8.2 batters per nine innings in 2010, but a big reason for his improved performance was that he gave up fewer homers (0.9 per nine) and walks (4.1 per nine) than he did in his first season with the Seals. In a difficult 2009, Bodishbaugh sported a ugly 5.91 ERA. As I wrote before spring training opened this year:
Looking forward, it’s quite possible that Bodishbaugh could have a break-out season in 2010. Given his age and relative inexperience at the professional level, he’ll benefit greatly from the tutelage of pitching coach Kip Gross and the three members of the pitching staff with big-league experience (Brandon VillafuerteJason Kershner and Phillip Barzilla). The key for Bodishbaugh will be to cut down on the walks (4.4 per nine innings in 2009) and the homers (1.4 per nine innings). If he can do that then he just might put together a nice little season.
The previous three Seals to sign with a big-league organization were Austin Bibens-Dirkx (Cubs, 2009), Isaac Hess (Red Sox, 2009) and Sergio Pedroza (Dodgers, 2010).

Congratulations, Bodi!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Goose Gossage Award ballot

The Victoria Seals Baseball Blog (VSBB) is a proud member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA). This year, the VSBB has the honour of casting the Other Baseball Chapter ballot for each of the five awards given to players and managers in both the National and American Leagues.

On Friday, we posted our ballot for the Willie Mays Award, presented to the top rookie in each league. This morning, the alliance announced the results: San Francisco's Buster Posey and Neftali Perez of the Texas Rangers were named the winners in their respective leagues. Today we present the VSBB ballot for the Goose Gossage Award, presented to the top reliever in each league. Casting the ballot on behalf of the VSBB is guest blogger Michael Poplawski.

National League

Brian Wilson was the ace of the pennant-winning Giants' excellent bullpen, earning 48 saves in 53 opportunities to be the Giants' reliable ace. Key stats: 70 G, 74.2 IP, 62 H, 26 BB, 93 SO, 1.81 ERA, 1.18 WHIP.

Heath Bell also had an excellent season, leading the NL in Save Percentage with 47 saves in 50 opportunities for the surprising San Diego Padres. Key stats: 67 G, 70 IP, 56 H, 28 BB, 86 SO, 1.93 ERA, 1.20 WHIP.

The Chicago Cubs' Carlos Marmol had one of the more spectacular relief seasons in recent memory, striking out 16.0 per nine innings and saving 38 games in 43 opportunities. Key stats: 77 G, 77 IP, 40 H, 52 BB, 138 SO, 2.55 ERA, 1.18 WHIP.

Honourable mention to the Los Angeles Dodgers' Hong-Chih Kuo, who was nearly unhittable throughout the season and earning a save in his final twelve save opportunities taking over for Jonathan Broxton to go along with 21 holds. Key stats: 56 G, 60 IP, 29 H, 18 BB, 73 SO, 1.20 ERA, 0.78 WHIP.

I'll give the edge to Wilson for the slight advantages in appearances and innings for a pennant-winner over the NL West runner-up.

1. Brian Wilson, SF Giants
2. Heath Bell, SD Padres
3. Carlos Marmol, Chicago Cubs

American League

Rafael Soriano led the AL in Save Opportunities (48) and Saves (45) for the AL East-winning Tampa Bay Rays. Key stats: 64 G, 62.1 IP, 36 H, 14 BB, 57 SO, 1.73 ERA, 0.80 WHIP.

Joakim Soria had another outstanding season as the Kansas City Royals' ace. Key stats: 66 G, 65.2 IP, 53 H, 16 BB, 71 SO, 43 Saves in 46 Opportunities, 1.78 ERA, 1.05 WHIP.

Daniel Bard pitched brilliantly in a setup role for the Boston Red Sox, leading the AL with 32 holds. Key stats: 73 G, 74.2 IP, 45 H, 30 BB, 76 SO, 1.93 ERA, 1.00 WHIP.

Honourable mention to Texas Rangers rookie Neftali Feliz who had an excellent season as the closer for the AL West winners. Key stats: 70 G, 69.1 IP, 43 H, 18 BB, 71 SO, 40 Saves in 43 Opportunities, 2.73 ERA, 0.88 WHIP.

As in the National League, I've gone with the pennant-winner who also happened to do slightly more than the runner-up in a few more opportunities.

1. Rafael Soriano, Tampa Bay Rays
2. Joakim Soria, KC Royals
3. Daniel Bard, Boston Red Sox

- Michael Poplawski

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Baseball America releases top indy prospects list

Maui's Donald Brandt
Baseball America recently released its list of the top prospects in the independent leagues and the Golden Baseball League fared extremely well. Of the top ten prospects, three hail from the GBL: Donald Brandt (Maui LHP), Blake Gailen (Chico OF) and Mark Samuelson (Chico 1B). The Frontier League, with four, was the only league with more players ranked in the top ten than the GBL. The American Association had two, the Northern League had one and (surprisingly) the Atlantic League was shut out.

No Victoria Seals were named to the top prospects list. You may remember that last year, Baseball America named Isaac Hess as their sixth-best prospect in the independent leagues.

Three others from the Golden League received honourable mentions from Baseball America: Josh Drew (Chico RHP), Wes Ethridge (Maui RHP) and David Harris (Orange County OF). Of the 22 total players listed, six were from the Golden League. No other independent league had more players on the list.

The full article can be found here.

Friday, October 15, 2010

VSBB ballot for the Willie Mays Award

The Victoria Seals Baseball Blog (VSBB) is a proud member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA). Similar to the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA), the alliance is organized into different chapters. Gus, the founder of the VSBB, is President of the alliance's Other Baseball Chapter. This year, the VSBB has the honour of casting the Other Baseball Chapter ballot for each of the five awards given to players and managers in both the National and American Leagues. 

On Tuesday, we posted our ballot for the Connie Mack Award, presented to the top manager in each league. This morning, the alliance announced the results of the Connie Mack Award voting. San Diego manager Bud Black and Texas manager Ron Washington were named the winners in their respective leagues. Today we present the VSBB ballot for the Willie Mays Award, presented to the top rookie in each league. Casting the ballot on behalf of the VSBB is guest blogger Michael Poplawski.

National League

The National League had the cream of the Major League rookie crop, with any of several rookies having strong enough seasons to challenge their American League counterparts for honours.

Jason Heyward lived up to his advance billing with only an injury preventing him from having one of the best rookie seasons ever, an effort rewarded with an All-Star selection and a trip to the postseason with the Braves. A great first season from a very young player who appears on the way to having an outstanding career. Key stats: 142 GP, 131 On-Base Plus Slugging Plus (OPS+), 4.4 Wins Above Replacement (WAR), batted mostly second.

Buster Posey's late start kept him from challenging for the top spot among NL rookies. The Giants were able to get an excellent performance from their young backstop right from his callup at the end of May on their way to reaching the postseason. Key stats: 115 GP, 122 OPS+, 3.0 Wins Above Replacement, batted mostly cleanup.

Jaime Garcia was one of the more consistent pitchers for the St. Louis Cardinals before their late-season fade, showing a remarkable recovery from Tommy John surgery. Key stats: 28 starts, 163.1 IP, 145 ERA+, 132 SO, 64 BB, 2.9 WAR

Our NL ballot is therefore:

1. Jason Heyward
2. Buster Posey
3. Jaime Garcia

American League

Over in the American League, we have a tight race between several players essentially equal on adjusted stats, but I will give the nod to Detroit Tigers outfielder Austin Jackson. Jackson took over center field for the Tigers on opening day and gave the Tigers solid all-round play in the field and in their leadoff spot. Key stats: 151 GP, 102 OPS+, 2.5 Wins Above Replacement.

Neftali Feliz took over the closer's role and was excellent throughout the season, and nearly untouchable after his trip to the All-Star Game. Key stats: 70 Relief Appearances, 40/43 in Save Chances, ERA+ of 159, 2.4 WAR.

Danny Valencia took over third base for the Minnesota Twins mid-season and took away much of the sting of Jason Morneau's season-ending injury. Key stats: 85 GP, 115 OPS+, 2.5 WAR.

Our AL ballot is therefore:

1. Austin Jackson
2. Neftali Feliz
3. Danny Valencia

- Michael Poplawski

Monday, October 11, 2010

2010 Connie Mack Awards

The Victoria Seals Baseball Blog is a proud member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance. As a member of the alliance, we have the honour of casting a ballot for each of the five awards given to players and managers in both the National and American Leagues. The first award for 2010 is the Connie Mack Award, presented to the top manager in each league. Casting the VSBB ballot for the Connie Mack Award is guest blogger Michael Poplawski.

National League

For me, it's a toss-up in a year where no team radically exceeded expectations to reach the postseason.

Bud Black was able to work similar wonders in San Diego with a team not expecting to contend and took them to the final weekend before finally bowing out of playoff contention.

Bobby Cox was able to bring together an excellent bullpen and integrate a number of rookies into a team that played consistently in reaching the post-season for the first time in five years.

Honourable mentions to Bruce Bochy and Dusty Baker for leading their teams to the postseasons after lengthy absences.

  1. Bud Black - San Diego Padres
  2. Bobby Cox - Atlanta Braves
  3. Bruce Bochy - San Francisco Giants
American League

Baltimore's Buck Showalter might be the choice here if we are looking forward to 2011. I'll stick with making a choice from managers who held their posts for the entire 2010 regular season.

As in the National League, I don't see a clear choice, but a number of well-matched candidates, each dealing with different challenges.

Joe Maddon kept a young team in turmoil focused on the task at hand, got the most out of the Rays' pitchers, and led them to their second AL East title in three years.

Runner-up is Ron Gardenhire for keeping the Twins rolling even after the season-ending injury to Justin Morneau, and for another excellent year from their bullpen.

Honourable mention to Terry Francona for keeping the Red Sox within shouting distance despite nearly daily player trips to the disabled list.

  1. Joe Maddon - Tampa Bay Rays
  2. Ron Gardenhire - Minnesota Twins
  3. Terry Francona - Boston Red Sox

Monday, October 4, 2010

Victoria's starting eight: Where to from here?

The Victoria Seals took a big step forward in 2010 and stayed in the second-half pennant race until the final week of the season. While their roster was much improved as compared to their inaugural season, the Seals will need to get better if they are to qualify for the postseason in 2011. With that in mind, I offer my personal thoughts on how the Victoria roster might be tweaked in the off-season.

Catchers - Josh Arhart and Matt Kavanaugh

Kavanaugh (.315, 7 HR, 38 RBI) made great strides in 2010 and had a breakout season, so if he returns he’ll likely be the starting catcher. He's improved so much in the last two years that it wouldn’t surprise me to see Kavanaugh on the GBL All-Star Team in the near future. If Arhart were to change his mind about retiring, I’d like to see Josh used almost exclusively at first base in 2011. The Seals sure could use his leadership and big bat in their lineup.

First Base - Matt Edgecombe and Josh Arhart

Although Edgecombe battled injuries for most of last season, I’m not sure he provides the kind of offense that is required of a first baseman on a playoff-bound team (see Brumbaugh, Cliff). If Arhart doesn’t return in 2011, I’d like to see the Seals sign a masher like Mark Samuelson of the Chico Outlaws.

Second Base - Henry Calderon

Calderon struggled at the plate (.211 in 71 at-bats) after he was acquired by the Seals in August in response to the Dale Swinford controversy. But Calderon has hit over .300 in his five previous GBL seasons, so we should cut him a bit of slack on his brief and less than stellar appearance with Victoria. Overall, he’s an adequate second baseman, so I wouldn’t be upset to see him return next season.

Shortstop - Wilver Perez

Perez is one of the flashiest players in the GBL and he proved that by smashing the GBL single-season stolen base record in 2010. His 64 steals beat the previous mark of 51 set by Jonny Kaplan, currently of the Calgary Vipers. Although Wilver is an offensive force, his defense left something to be desired last season. He seemed to lose focus in the field on a semi-regular basis and his 25 errors were a big jump from his 14 miscues in 2009. Many of those 25 errors could be chalked up to a lack of effort -- far too often Perez waived his glove at balls bounding past him rather than getting his body in front of them. On the base-paths, Wilver was occasionally guilty of running in situations he shouldn’t have been and at times he seemed a bit too interested in the stolen base record. If I were running the show, I’d “sell high” and trade Perez for a top-notch starting pitcher.

Third Base - Brian Rios

Like Arhart, Rios announced that he was planning on retiring after the 2010 season. We’ll have to wait and see about that. The team could use his clutch hitting and leadership qualities, so hopefully he will change his mind and be back for another year. If not, then we'll have a new man at the hot corner in 2011.

Outfield - Colin Moro, Tim Rodriguez and Terrence McClain

Colin Moro had an off year last season, hitting only .294 with 6 homers and 50 RBI. In 2009 with the Vipers, Moro had a superb.376 average with 8 homers and 65 RBI. However, Moro did walk an impressive 50 times in 293 at-bats in 2010 and his .423 on-base percentage was second-best on the team. He has a cannon of an arm, so hopefully he’ll be back in 2011. If not, I’d like the Seals to bring slugger Sergio Pedroza back to town.

Tim Rodriguez also struggled after joining the Seals in mid-July. He hit .349 with 6 homers and 51 RBI with the Yuma Scorpions in the first half of the year, but only .230 with 6 homers and 23 RBI in 148 at-bats with the Seals. This scribe thinks the latter set of numbers will be closer to his career GBL statistics. Rodriguez has shown that he has difficulty controlling the strike zone -- he struck out 82 times and only walked on 22 occasions in 297 total at-bats last year. His career batting average in Advanced A ball was only .213 and it was .217 in A ball. Time for an upgrade in centre field.

Terrence McClain proved his 2009 season in the United League was no fluke, as he posted a .330 average with 14 homers and 63 RBI in 339 at-bats. His home run and RBI numbers were both career highs, although he did benefit greatly from the short porch in left field (as did Jamar Hill in 2009). T-Mac has continued to improve throughout his career, so there is no reason to believe that he can’t match last year’s numbers next season. Let’s hope that McClain pays a return visit to Victoria in 2011 -- especially so we can groove to some Convict Music again next summmer. Heyyyyyy, dat’s what it is!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

GBL announces 2010 player awards

The GBL recently announced its player awards for the 2010 season. The winners are:
  • MVP - Cliff Brumbaugh (1B), Edmonton
  • Pitcher of the Year - Donald Brandt, Maui
  • Rookie of the Year - Tyler Keeble (SS), Orange County
  • Rookie Pitcher of the Year - Cody Walden, Tucson
Cliff Brumbaugh playing in Korea in 2007
Cliff Brumbaugh was outstanding for the Capitals in 2010, hitting .383 with a league-leading 23 homers. His 90 RBIs were second-best in the league, trailing only Drew Miller of the Calgary Vipers who knocked in 94 runs. Brumbaugh's OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) was an astonishing 1.138. Teammate Larry Bigbie was the only player in the GBL with a higher OPS (1.246). By comparison, Barry Bonds had a career OPS of 1.051.

Lefty Donald Brandt snagged the Pitcher of the Year honour by going a perfect 15-0 on the season with a 2.58 ERA. While he obviously had an outstanding season, a more deserving candidate appears to have been overlooked. Brandt's teammate on the Strong Warriors of Maui, Wes Ethridge, would have been a better choice for the award. Ethridge went 10-0 with a 1.76 ERA and bested Brandt in just about every pitching statistic other than wins (which is highly over-rated). Ethridge limited opponents to a .203 batting average and posted a marvelous WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched) of 0.98. On the other hand, Brandt "only" held opponents to a .226 batting average and he notched a mildly impressive 1.22 WHIP. Ethridge also had a strikeout to walk ratio of 4.8, almost twice as high as Brandt's 2.5 strikeouts per walk.

Orange County's shortstop, Tyler Keeble, won Rookie of the Year by hitting .302 with 9 homers and 60 RBIs. Keeble was in his first year of professional baseball after being drafted out of the Arizona Winter League.

Tucson's Cody Walden took home the Rookie Pitcher of the Year award by going 4-1 with a 3.44 ERA in 17 games this season. The 24-year-old right-hander was traded to the Lincoln Saltdogs of the independent American Association on August 19th and finished the season with the Saltdogs.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Baseball: The Tenth Inning

If you're a serious baseball fan (and you must be if you're following this blog), you'll want to be watching PBS this Tuesday and Wednesday night. Ken Burns has updated his landmark Emmy Award-winning documentary Baseball by adding a four-hour, two-part episode that walks us through the compelling issues in the game since 1994. The new episode is titled, simply, Baseball: The Tenth Inning.

Of particular interest to this blogger is the significant segment that is dedicated to the 1994 Montreal Expos, a team that had a 74-40 record when a player strike resulted in the cancellation of the remainder of the season, including the playoffs. The Montreal Expos and their fans would never recover from that blow. Other issues that are dealt with include the steroid scandal, the epic home run race between McGwire and Sosa that helped save baseball, and the increasing impact of Latino and Japanese players.

For Shaw Cable viewers in Victoria, you can watch it on Seattle's PBS affiliate (channel 19 or 204 in HD) from 8 to 10 PM on both nights. It will be repeated from 10 PM to midnight. Detroit's PBS affiliate (channel 87) will also air The Tenth Inning from 5 to 7 PM PST both nights, with a repeat broadcast from 7 to 9 PM.


Friday, September 24, 2010

Maui owner says team will return in 2011

Owner Michael Cummings was quoted in an article in the The Maui News as saying that the Strong Warriors of Maui will be back in the GBL next year. Although the team lost money this past season, he has brought in some business partners to supply additional capital. The Na Koa Ikaika Maui franchise only drew between 600 and 700 fans last season, but they pulled in 2,145 fans for the final game of the GBL Championship Series, a 7-1 loss to the Chico Outlaws.

Incidentally, Chico's sweep of Maui in the GBL Championship Series was their second league title in the last four  years.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Off-season plans for the VSBB

As the GBL season draws to a close, and Chico battles it out with Maui for the league championship, we have taken a bit of a break from the Blog to reconnect with family, work, friends, and my TV remote. But all is not forgotten, and we have been discussing an exciting off-season lineup of hard hitting journalism to keep our fair-weather sport close in your thoughts.

A few things you can expect to see over the coming months:

  • A recap of news surrounding the upcoming league meetings, where the future of the league and many of its teams will be discussed and decided.
  • Exclusive interviews with past and present Seals and members of the Seals front office staff.
  • Updates on player moves, trades, and call-ups.
  • Exciting trivia, perhaps even with prizes!
  • And as the season draws near, reports on Winter league happenings, player signings, and spring training action.

In short, we'll make something out of nothing to keep you entertained through the off season while you wait patiently for the next time you can rest your rear end on what could be the most uncomfortable seats in professional ball. Perhaps we'll even discuss those (the seating issue, not your rear ends).

So check back often, keep us on your facebook updates, and keep in touch with the VSBB all winter!