Monday, June 7, 2010

Vipers-Seals series preview

After getting swept on their six-game road trip, the Seals return home to Royal Athletic Park to play a three-game series against the Calgary Vipers starting Tuesday night at 7 PM.

The Vipers, who are the defending GBL champions, completely overhauled their roster in the off-season. Colin Moro played for the Vipers last year, but he won’t recognize most of the Calgary team when he takes to the field Tuesday night. It was expected that the loss of so many outstanding players would mean that Calgary would be a less-than-stellar squad in 2010, but that has not been the case. Credit must be given to the Vipers front office for bringing in so much new talent. Last year’s version of the Vipers was dominant offensively, but had one of the weaker pitching staffs in the league. While their pitching remains questionable (7th best in a 10-team league), their hitting remains solid (tied for third best in the GBL). Unlike the Seals, the Vipers play station-to-station baseball and don’t attempt to steal very often. In fact, Seals left fielder Sean Smith has 50% more steals than the entire Calgary team combined.

Tale of the Tape

Victoria Seals 6-9 .400 (Tied for 3rd in North Division), .246 batting average, 6.38 team ERA
Calgary Vipers 9-5 .643 (2nd in North Division), .299 batting average, 5.76 team ERA

Who’s Hot (on the Vipers)

One of the few returning stars from 2009, Drew Miller, is eighth in the league in hitting with a .400 average. Centre fielder Julio Ramirez is hitting .391 with four homers and 13 RBI. He played in 84 big-league games and last appeared in the majors in 2005 with the San Francisco Giants. First baseman Matt Edgecombe has a .368 average with one homer and 12 RBIs.

Erik Dessau (2-0) is leading the league with a 0.60 ERA and he’ll likely take to the mound on Wednesday or Thursday night at RAP. He was with the Vipers last year, but he posted a malodorous 6.78 ERA. Reliever Claudio Galva was just signed on May 30th and he has been on fire since joining the club. Galva, who played as high as AAA in the Oakland A’s organization, has limited opponents to a .167 batting average in five innings of relief.

Who’s Not (on the Vipers)

Calgary’s former pitching ace, Joe Sergent has fallen on hard times. He sports an ERA of 11.57 in his four starts, but he is unlikely to see action at RAP this week. Coanabo Cosme hit .387 last year, but he only has a .244 average so far in 2010. He knocked in three runs on Sunday afternoon though, so don’t be surprised if Cosme does some damage against the Seals.

Likely Starters for Victoria

If Kip Gross keeps his usual rotation, we’ll likely see Jino Gonzalez, Aaron Trolia and Chris Bodisbaugh (in that order) in the three games against Calgary. However, it’s possible that Kyle Wilson could get the Thursday night start. But given how things have gone recently, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Charlie Strandlund get a start.

Keys to the Series

It’s really quite simple: Can the Victoria Seals come out of their horrendous tailspin? If they play like they did on their six-game road trip, the Vipers will sweep this series easily. If the Seals play like they did on their first home stand then we’re in for quite a tilt.

In light of their current seven-game losing streak, there’s no shortage of Seals to point the finger at. On the hitting side, only Colin Moro and Terrence McClain are off to great starts. Sean Smith is batting an anemic .136 in the leadoff position (but to his credit he has walked six times in his last four games). Josh Arhart is hitting a pedestrian .256 with only two RBIs on the season (he hit .325 with 52 RBIs last year). Wilver Perez has a meagre .250 average with only 3 RBIs (he hit .330 in 2009). Brian Rios is batting a respectable .293, but he only has three RBIs in 2010. These guys have got to start producing.

Pitching wise, the entire starting rotation is in a funk. None of the five starters have an ERA under 5.56. In the bullpen, only Brandon Villafuerte (1.13 ERA), Andrew Arreola (1.50 ERA) and Anthony Pluta (2.35 ERA) are off to good starts. The other seven pitchers need to pull up their socks – and fast.


This is a tough call, but I’ll predict that the Vipers will win two of three due to the fact that the red-hot Erik Dessau will start one of the games for Calgary. However, I hope I’m dead wrong and the Seals return to their winning ways at RAP.

Editor's Note: Joe Sergent has been placed on the Inactive List by the Calgary Vipers.