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!