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.

Enjoy!

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!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Spot on

Predictions at the start of any year are usually based on a lot of player analysis, head to head comparisons and much more in-depth research. Typically, these predictions go astray somewhere along the line and fade into the category of preseason fun. Not so with the predictions made on this very blog way back in April of this year. In a simply amazing run of pure chance, I was able to nail all four playoff teams with a not-so-scientific approach.

My tongue in cheek post was meant to imply that all preseason predictions are usually rubbish (similar to Maggie the Monkey who predicts NHL series...also referenced in the previous post) and that the speculation of the "experts" is really just a way to fill up newspapers and TV slots (and blog postings!). If you read the article, you'll see that I used the team's mascots as a way to see who defeats who and when all was said and done, I had a North final of Vipers vs. Outlaws and a South final off Warriors vs. Flyers. Heart be still, that turned out to be 100% correct!

Now, to get to the final, I had Maui defeating the OC in the South and the Vipers beating the Outlaws in the North. The current (real!) Maui/Vipers series is knotted at a game apiece with the remaining 3 games to be played in OC so I look a bit shaky there. Thanks can be given to ex-Seal Sergio Pedroza who blasted a late inning 2-run homer to even the series 1-1. Maui could only muster one hit so we'll see if their bats wake up back on the mainland and save my prediction.

In the North, I had the Vipers getting past the Outlaws to face Maui in the final. Chico took Game 1 at home but game 2 was rained out and will be played in Calgary, along with the last 3 games in this best-of-five series. I find it strange that a team loses a home playoff game because of weather, but it is so in the GBL. Again in this series, I am down but have faith in the mountain men to come back and make me proud since they play the last set of games at home.

Should all go to plan, Maui will face Calgary in the final and the Warriors will raise the trophy, but win or lose, it is funny to look back at how we got here! As I say whenever Gus scores a goal in hockey, "even a blind squirrel finds acorns once in a while".

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Josh Arhart named VSBB Player of the Year

The bloggers at the Victoria Seals Baseball Blog (VSBB) are proud to announced that Josh Arhart has been selected as the VSBB Player of the Year. Arhart surged past Wilver Perez in the overall standings by finishing second in September's VSBB Player of the Month award.

In the 2010 season, Josh led the Seals in batting average (.352), on-base percentage (.437), home runs (17) and slugging percentage (.626) and his 17 homers ranked fourth in the GBL. Arhart was also the 6th-most difficult hitter to strike out in the entire league, fanning only once per 9.2 at-bats (incidentally, Brian Rios was the 3rd-most difficult batter to strike out in the GBL, with a K every 11.5 at-bats). Arhart also showed fantastic plate discipline by walking more times than he struck out (30 BB's vs 25 K's), a feat that is quite difficult for a power hitter to accomplish.

In addition to Josh's offense, he was also solid defensively, posting a .987 fielding percentage on only 6 errors in 2010. Although the 30-year-old has stated that he will be retiring after this season, I wouldn't be surprised to see him return for another year of professional baseball. His .352 average is a career high, so Arhart obviously has some quality baseball left in him. The Seals could definitely use him at first base and catcher next season.

Matt Kavanaugh capped his breakout season by winning the VSBB Player of the Month award for September. Kavy hit .315 on the year with 7 homers and 38 RBIs. The 25-year-old made huge strides in only his third year of professional baseball. In his first two pro seasons, both in the GBL, Kavanaugh hit .258 and .239 in part-time roles. Last season with the Seals, Kavy only had one homer and 15 RBIs in 184 at-bats. This guy could very well be a future GBL All Star.

Colin Moro, Brian Rios and Jeff Duda finished in a three-way tie for third place in the voting. Duda pitched six innings of shutout ball on the first of September to pick up the win against the Capitals in a must-win game. Moro hit an even .500 in five September games and led the Seals with six RBIs in the month.

The final year-to-date standings for the VSBB Player of the Year are as follows:
  • Josh Arhart - 7 points
  • Wilver Perez - 5.5 points
  • Terrence McClain - 4 points
  • Brian Rios - 3.33 points
  • Isaac Hess - 3 points
  • Matt Kavanaugh - 3 points
  • Jino Gonzalez - 2.5 points
  • Brandon Villafuerte - 1 point
  • Colin Moro - 0.33 point
  • Jeff Duda - 0.33 point
Congratulations, Josh! Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!

Photo courtesy of Jonathon Howe,
graphics courtesy of Bubba

Monday, September 6, 2010

Thanks

Well this afternoon's rain-out on an unseasonably cool Labour Day officially brings the 2010 season to an end. The Seals finished their second season in the GBL with a very respectable 45-43 record and a .511 winning percentage. That's a huge improvement from their .390 winning percentage (32-50) in their inaugural season.

The season was chock full of fantastic memories, including the first pennant race in Seals history. We at the Victoria Seals Baseball Blog have had a ton of fun covering the team this year, and I'd like to take this time to thank you, our loyal readers, for making all of this possible. Without your keen interest in the game of baseball, we'd be writing blog posts in a vacuum (If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?). Thanks to all of you who left so many thoughtful comments on our blog, especially our super-fans Annie, Hack and Tyler.

I'd like to send out a hearty thank you to Darren Parker, Mike Walker and the entire staff of the Victoria Seals Baseball Club. We truly appreciate your support and encouragement and you can be proud of assembling the finest organization in the Golden Baseball League.

Thanks also to the Seals' ace photographer, Jonathon Howe, for making our trips to the ballpark even more enjoyable. We're sure you'll do a great job this year over at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre.

Thanks to all of the Victoria Seals players for playing so hard while getting paid peanuts for their efforts. I'd like to give a special shout-out to Aaron Easton for his unmatched intensity on the mound, but laid-back demeanor off of it. It's guys like Aaron that make it fun to come to the ballpark.

I'd also like to thank my partners in crime, Bubba and Darth, for their excellent contributions to the blog. It's great having a team of bloggers with such diverse opinions but a common love of the game. As always, your friendship is truly appreciated (sniff, sniff, I must have something in my eye).

And last but certainly not least, I'd like to thank my spouse, Shirley for all of her love and support. This past year I spent many a night (and Sunday afternoon) at Royal Athletic Park and countless hours in front of the computer screen writing blog posts, sometimes well past midnight. Thanks for supporting me in this irrational (but rewarding) endeavor.

While the season may officially be over, we at the VSBB won't be packing it in until next spring. Whenever there is a shred of interesting news about the Victoria Seals, we'll be sure to post it here. Stay tuned.

There are probably others that I should be thanking, so please accept my apologies if I have missed you. Thanks again to everyone!!

Strandlund makes us proud

Not only did Charlie Strandlund play all nine positions against the Edmonton Capitals on Sunday afternoon, but he played 'em all well. Strandlund played each position in numerical order (one through nine in score-keeping shorthand) which meant that he had the honour of being the starting pitcher. He didn't disappoint on the mound, hurling a 1-2-3 inning to start the game. He got the third out by making a nice play on a hard-hit come-backer from ex-big leaguer Alex Prieto.

Strandlund moved behind the plate to catch Jason Kershner in the second and the local boy called a 1-2-3 second inning. In the third inning, he would have made a put-out on a ground ball to Josh Arhart at third base (!), but Arhart's throw was ten feet over Strandlund's head. The ball bounded off of the concrete wall in shallow right field and Wilver Perez played the carom perfectly and threw out Mike Hrynio at second base for the third out.

Charlie made a nice play in the sixth inning at shortstop as he ranged to his right, planted and threw out the runner with a strong throw. The rest of the game was relatively quiet and Charlie's only chances were a pair of ground-ball base hits to him in the outfield.

His stats for the day: 1-for-4 at the plate, two assists, two put-outs, no errors on four total chances and one perfect inning on the pitching mound. Nice job, Charlie!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Strandlund to play all nine positions on Sunday

The Seals have announced that Victoria native Charlie Strandlund will play all nine positions on Sunday afternoon against the Edmonton Capitals. The versatile Strandlund will play a different position every inning, something that has been done at the major-league level only four times. Strandlund, who has played mainly at second base this year, has pitched in relief on four separate occasions for the Seals.

The feat was first accomplished at the major-league level by Bert Campaneris of the Kansas City A's on September 8th, 1965. The idea was the brainchild of the A's owner Charlie O. Finley. Campaneris started the game by playing at his natural position, shortstop, and then he played an inning at second base, third base, left field, centre field, right field, first base, pitcher and then catcher. He made five put-outs and had one assist on the night and did not commit an error. He also only gave up one earned run in his inning on the mound, but the most impressive aspect was that he pitched ambidextrously. Campaneris pitched as a southpaw to left-handed batters and as a righty to right-handed hitters.

Since Campaneris turned the trick, three more players have appeared in all nine positions in a game in the majors: C├ęsar Tovar for the Twins in 1968, Scott Sheldon for the Rangers in 2000 and Shane Halter for the Tigers in 2000.

Standlund has been riding the pine for the last month of the season. In the month of August, he only had four plate appearances, but he got the start at second base on Saturday night to shake off the rust before his big day on Sunday. In Saturday's game, Strandlund went 2-for-4 to raise his batting average to .200 and on-base percentage to .280 (incidentally, the frequently-used Jerry Madueno has a .164 average and a .190 on-base percentage).

It's going to be a lot of fun to see Charlie turn the trick on Sunday afternoon. If you don't already have tickets, I suggest you come on out to Royal Athletic Park to witness a piece of local baseball history being made. From a personal  standpoint, I'm particularly interested to see this play out. I came up with the idea while watching Strandlund pitch against the Chico Outlaws on the 14th of August. I have confidence that Charlie will make us all proud.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Final series preview of 2010


Well, it's the season finale. Our boys of summer are putting it all on the line for the last time against the Edmonton Capitals. A few days ago, we were hoping for a meaningful series with playoff implications, but now, we realistically just want to go out with a bang. While the Seals are mathematically still alive, the Vipers have all but clinched the second half title with the magic number (combination of Seals losses and Vipers wins) down to 2, and a 4 game set with the hapless Tijuana team. All things considered though, it has been (and still is) a great season with a future so bright, we'll have to wear shades. So get out to RAP this weekend, applaud the boys and show the city why we deserve a professional baseball team.

Tale of the Tape

Victoria 22-17 (2nd place), 44-40 .524 (overall), .283 team BA (6th - tie), 4.57 team ERA (5th)
Edmonton 19-21 (4th place), 48-37 .565 (overall), .296 team BA (3rd), 4.75 team ERA (6th)

Edmonton - Who's Hot

Outfielder Larry Bigbie and Shortstop Matt Rogelstad are both hot as of late, hitting .476 and .353 respectively over the past 5 games. A number of players who have played sporadically in recent games, have chipped in with solid performances of late. On the hill, Mike Johnson has been spectacular only allowing 1 earned run over the entire month of August in about 17 innings of work. Chris Little has pitched well over his last 3 starts and is still one to watch after losing a close one to Victoria last night in his "worst" outing of the past few weeks.

Edmonton - Who's Not

The other Arreola - Darryl - has been pummeled in 2 of his past 4 starts so who knows which one will show up in Victoria; hopefully the one that seems to pitch underhand (!). Ex-MLB-er and usually heavy hitting Enrique Cruz (season average of .378) has only 4 hits in his last 26 at bats (.154) but don't count on that continuing. Other regulars, 1B Tom Collaro and SS (and often-moved...Edmonton is his 3rd team this year) Alex Prieto are regular .300 hitters but are managing .091 and .143 respectively over the past week.

Victoria - Who's Hot

Over the past 10 days, Colin Moro, Wilver Perez and Issac Hess (!) are all hitting above .400. Matt Kavanaugh has also been scorching in recent days hitting a sweet-riding .375. Wilver continues to wreak havoc on the pads and Josh Arhart was playing very well before he went down with an injury. As far as pitching goes, Brandon Villafuerte continues to be a reliable closer and starting pitchers Jeff Duda and Anthony Pluta have recently had a couple of great outings. Combined, the Seals pitching staff has an incredible 50-13 strikeout to walk ratio in the past 7 days, so Capitals hitters beware.

Victoria - Who's Not

Middle relief has been a struggle over the past few weeks with Aaron Easton and Andrew Arreola having a couple of rough outings. At the plate, the "newer" Seals acquisitions of Jerry Madueno, T-Rod and Henry Calderon have struggled of late with a combined .167 average (I know Hack, I know...where is Swinny???). Brian Rios is hitting an un-Inky like .250 lately but I expect him to bust out in his final series at home. In general, there has been a power outage from what we have been used to, with only 2 round trippers from the entire team over the past week.

Keys to the Series

If the bats of the Capitals remain cool and the Seals starting pitching remains hot, it will be a long weekend for the gang from Edmonton. With Josh Arhart back (he chipped in a single last night pinch hitting) and a hopefully appreciative home crowd, I would expect the Seals to pile up the runs. With Edmonton already out of the race and playing on the road, I'm thinking they will not put up too much resistance. While the Seals are still mathematically alive, it should give them an edge over the eliminated Caps. Conversely, if and when they are out of contention, they have to avoid a letdown and just bask in the fact that they had a very successful second half and, compared to last year, a huge improvement in all areas.

Prediction

Final series at home but disappointment over playoff elimination give conflicting signals. Edmonton was red hot but have cooled down a lot lately, losing 6 of their last 8 games. A tough call, but I'm predicting Seals to take 3 of 4 while enjoying the last weekend of the summer playing professional ball.