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!