Saturday, October 13, 2012

We have moved!

Our new home is the Victoria HarbourCats Baseball Blog.

Thank you for all of your support in the last four years and we look forward to seeing you at Royal Athletic Park for HarbourCats baseball!

Go Cats!

Friday, October 12, 2012

What's in a name?

There you have it - Victoria HarbourCats. I like it. I give it a solid "A". There is a "u" in HarbourCats making it uniquely Canadian, which I also like. The logo is pretty cool too - my first thought was that it looked like the Carolina Panther (mother) and Jacksonville Jaguar (father) mated and had a little HarbourKitty of their own - awww look, he has his mom's colours and his dad's whiskers! Yes, this is the type of insightful blogging you can look forward to all year as we rev ourselves up to a frenzy until opening day! 

This new team name and logo were introduced in an open team news conference today at the Shark Club by the team's GM, Holly "HoJo" Jones. John McLean (owner) and Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin were also on hand with their comments. There were over 600 names suggested by the public with the first 250 entries getting a pair of tickets to a HarbourCats' game next year. As has always been the case, community spirit was stressed with the logo being fierce enough for the players/fans, and soft enough for a non-kid-threatening mascot. And as a member of our community, I really do hope we get behind this new team so their tenancy is a long and fruitful one here in Vic-town.

Today's announcement was brief and to the point, with team logo T-shirts being handed out to a lucky few via a random draw. Rumours that Mayor Fortin will be on the bump for the season opener had the crowd on the edge of their seats, that is, until someone called out that he may not be NCAA eligible.

As we now convert our Seals blog site to a new HarbourCats one (goodbye Seymour, hello..."Kitty" - sorry, couldn't resist!), we look forward to more announcements in the future as the team formalizes its roster and also comes up with a new uniform design.

The more I hear about the league, the more I look forward to the youthful excitement to which I think we will be treated. Without having seen a game, I liken it to the WHL of the amateur baseball world and that fires me up.

No one has called "play ball" in Victoria just yet, but as Ed Grimley would say, "I'm so excited already, I must say".

Victoria HarbourCats!

Our new WCL team is called the HarbourCats.

Details to follow....

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Name and logo of Victoria's WCL team to be released Friday!

After much anticipation, we'll soon know the name and logo of our new West Coast League baseball franchise. The team is set to make the official announcement at 11:30 AM at the Shark Club. Our group of intrepid bloggers will be on hand to cover the event and you'll find news and commentary on this site afterwards. Members of the public are welcome to attend the unveiling, so feel free to come on down to the Shark Club and experience it yourself.

The team has been tight-lipped about their decision, but GM Holly Jones has been releasing names periodically on Twitter that were not selected. So far, the following have been ruled out:
  • Muffins. No shocker that it didn't make the cut, but if you're going to submit that name wouldn't you go with Stud Muffins instead?
  • Rogers. There are some obvious promotional opportunities with the chocolate company, but it didn't quite make the cut.
  • Vikings. Uh, that one's taken.
  • Cupcakes. Wow, there were a lot of food suggestions... and they all suffered the same fate.
  • Capital City Surf. Of course, we'd need the Capital City Goofball as our mascot.
  • Orcas. One of the most commonly suggested names, but this one fell short too. It would have been a good one though.
  • Brewers. Also taken.
  • Tide. Another one of the most common suggestions, but it's already used by a AAA team.
  • Mini Goldendoodles. Holly Jones sure has a cute dog, but there's not enough room on the front of a uniform for that one.
  • Smokies. Nope -- already used by a AA team.
  • Fighting Marmots. That was a great suggestion... OK, maybe I may have put it forward it in a previous blog post, but it was a good suggestion nonetheless. Of course, the Marmots haven't been ruled out yet, so there is always hope.
It's a bit of a long-shot to predict what name might be chosen, but given owner John McLean's knowledge and respect of Victoria's baseball tradition, I wouldn't be surprised to see a throwback name selected. Either that or the Stud Muffins.

Monday, October 8, 2012

2012 Stan Musial Award

The Victoria Seals Baseball Blog (VSBB) is a proud member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA). The VSBB once again has the honour of casting a ballot for the five awards given to players and managers in both the National and American Leagues. Today we reveal our ballots for the Stan Musial Award, which will be presented to the MVP in each league.

In 2010, Buster Posey had an outstanding rookie season and led the Giants to their first World Series title since they moved to San Francisco at the end of the 1957 season. Last year, a gruesome ankle injury left the Giants without their star catcher for most of the season and the team missed the playoffs. This season, Posey returned to form and the Giants easily cruised to the NL West title. When looking for the National League MVP, the search starts and stops with Buster Posey.

Posey won the NL batting title with a .336 average, the first catcher to do so in the senior circuit since 1942. He also slammed 24 homers and knocked in 103 runs and provided the Giants with excellent defense behind the plate.

Our National League ballot for the Stan Musial Award is:
  1. Buster Posey, San Franscisco Giants
  2. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers
  3. David Wright, NY Mets
  4. Chase Headley, San Diego Padrees
  5. Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates
  6. Jason Heyward, Atlanta Braves
  7. Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals
  8. Aramis Ramirez, Milwaukee Brewers
  9. Michael Bourn, Atlanta Braves
  10. Aaron Hill, Arizona Diamondbacks
Choosing an MVP for the AL was even easier than in the NL, as Mike Trout had a spectacular season. We gave him the top spot on our Willie Mays Award ballot (rookie of the year) and I'm equally confident that he deserves the Stan Musial Award. Trout played unbelievable defense in centre field for the Angels in addition to being an offensive force. He hit .326 with 30 homers and 83 RBI, swiped 49 bases and scored an impressive 129 runs. It will be interesting to see how his career plays out, but the 21 year-old has future Hall of Famer written all over him.

Our AL ballot is as follows:
  1. Mike Trout, LA Angels
  2. Robinson Cano, NY Yankees
  3. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
  4. Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers
  5. Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers
  6. Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners
  7. Ben Zobrist, Tampa Bay Rays
  8. Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals
  9. Austin Jackson, Detroit Tigers
  10. Torii Hunter, LA Angels

Sunday, October 7, 2012

2012 Walter Johnson Award

The Victoria Seals Baseball Blog (VSBB) is a proud member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA). Once again this year, the VSBB has the honour of casting ballots for the five BBA awards given to players and managers in both the National and American Leagues. Today we give you the VSBB ballot for the Walter Johnson Award, which is presented to the top pitcher (starter or reliever) in each league.

In my opinion, the most overrated pitching statistic is the won-loss record. Too many variables that are completely out of the control of a pitcher (e.g. run support) determine who is awarded the win in a ballgame. With that in mind, it's not really a shocker that R.A. Dickey wasn't at the top of our National League ballot. Although he won 20 games, we feel there are more deserving candidates.

In the NL, I'm giving the nod once again to Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Kershaw won both the Walter Johnson and the Cy Young awards for the NL in 2011 with a spectacular 21-5 record and a 2.28 ERA / 0.98 WHIP. Although his record fell to 14-9 in 2012, his numbers were still worthy of being the top-ranked pitcher in the National League. Kershaw posted a 2.53 ERA / 1.02 WHIP this season and struck out 9.1 hitters per nine innings while only walking 2.5 per nine.

Gio Gonzalez of the Washington Nationals came a close second in our voting. Gonzalez had a record of 21-8 and registered a 2.89 ERA and 1.13 WHIP.

Cliff Lee, Wade Miley and R.A. Dickey rounded out our ballot. Honourable mention goes to Johnny Cueto of the Cincinnati Reds.

Our NL ballot for the Walter Johnson Award stands at:
  1. Clayton Kershaw, LA Dodgers
  2. Gio Gonzalez, Washington Nationals
  3. Cliff Lee, Philadelphia Phillies
  4. Wade Miley, Arizona Diamondbacks
  5. R.A. Dickey, NY Mets
In the junior circuit, Justin Verlander was the obvious choice for the first spot on our ballot. Verlander won both the Walter Johnson and Cy Young awards for the AL in 2011, and he had an equally-good campaign this season. Verlander notched a 17-8 record with a sparkling 2.64 ERA and 1.06 WHIP.

Felix Hernandez had an outstanding season for the anemic Seattle Mariners, posting a 13-9 record, 3.06 ERA and 1.14 WHIP.

David Price, Yu Darvish and Chris Sale snagged the last three votes that we cast.

Our AL ballot for the Walter Johnson Award is:
  1. Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers
  2. Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners
  3. David Price, Tampa Bay Rays
  4. Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers
  5. Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox

2012 Goose Gossage Award

The Victoria Seals Baseball Blog (VSBB) is a proud member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA). The VSBB once again has the honour of casting a ballot for the five awards given to players and managers in both the National and American Leagues. Today we reveal our ballots for the Goose Gossage Award, which will be presented to the each league's top relief pitcher.

For the second consecutive year, closer Craig Kimbrel of the Atlanta Braves gets our vote as the top reliever in the National League. Kimbrel saved 42 games in his sophomore season, tied with Jason Motte of the St. Louis Cardinals for the league lead. He also struck out a league-best 16.7 batters per nine innings pitched, while posting a stunning 1.01 ERA and 0.65 WHIP. In fact, Kimbrel's WHIP is the best for a reliever in baseball history.

Second on our ballot is flamethrower Aroldis Chapman of the Cincinnati Reds. Chapman notched 38 saves and posted a 1.51 ERA and 0.81 WHIP. He also struck out an impressive 15.3 hitters per nine innings.

Rounding out our NL ballot is David Hernandez of the Arizona Diamonbacks. While he only notched four saves on the year, Hernandez was rock-solid out of the pen for the D-backs. He appeared in 72 games and compiled a 2.50 ERA and 1.02 WHIP while striking out 12.9 per nine innings.

Our NL Goose Gossage Award ballot is:
  1. Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves
  2. Aroldis Chapman, Cincinnati Reds
  3. David Hernandez, Arizona Diamondbacks
In the American League, Rays closer Fernando Rodney gets our vote as the top reliever. Not only did Rodney notch a whopping 48 saves, but he had a sparkling 0.60 ERA and 0.78 WHIP. Over the entire 2012 season, Rodney only surrendered two homers (74 2/3 innings pitched).

Greg Holland quietly had an outstanding season for the Kansas City Royals. After taking over the closer's role with the trade of Jonathan Broxton to the Reds, Holland notched 16 saves and lowered his ERA for the season to 2.96.

While he may have been the forgotten man in an excellent Tampa Bay Rays bullpen, lefty Jake McGee provided solid late-inning relief as a bridge to Fernando Rodney. McGee posted a 1.95 ERA and 0.80 WHIP, while holding opponents to a paltry .165 batting average in his 69 appearances.

Our AL Gossage Award ballot is:
  1. Fernando Rodney, Tampa Bay Rays
  2. Greg Holland, Kansas City Royals
  3. Jake McGee, Tampa Bay Rays

Saturday, October 6, 2012

2012 Willie Mays Award

The Victoria Seals Baseball Blog (VSBB) is a proud member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA). In this blog post, we present our ballot for the Willie Mays Award, which is given by the BBA to the top rookie in each league. Similar to the Baseball Writers' Association of America, the alliance is organized into different chapters. Gus, the founder of the VSBB, is President of the alliance's Other Baseball Chapter.

Choosing the top rookie for 2012 in the American League was a no-brainer, but the selections in the National League were quite a bit more difficult.

In the senior circuit, we decided to give the nod to pitching phenom Wade Miley of the Arizona Diamondbacks. The rookie southpaw went 16-11 with a 3.33 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. Although he doesn't strike out a ton of hitters (6.7 K/9), Miley walked a miserly 1.7 batters per nine innings and did a good job of keeping hitters in the park (0.7 HR/9).

Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals can do it all on the field. Hit, hit for power, run, field -- you name it, he does it well. Harper hit .270 with 22 HR and 59 RBI, while swiping 18 bases. One of the few blemishes on Harper's record occurred when the Nationals clinched a playoff spot and he was completely unaware of the significance of the win. The fireworks going off started to make sense to the 19-year-old when he was handed a playoff T-shirt. He's still a teenager, so one can only imagine how good he will become when he matures.

Reds' infielder Todd Frazier was one of the reasons why the team survived a serious injury to Joey Votto and breezed to the NL Central title. Frazier hit .273 with 19 homers and 67 RBI.
My National League ballot is:
  1. Wade Miley, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks
  2. Bryce Harper, CF, Washington Nationals
  3. Todd Frazier, 1B/3B, Cincinnati Reds
The decision in the American League couldn't have been any easier. Mike Trout of the Angels had the best rookie season in the live ball era (since 1920). That's right: better than Albert Pujol's 2001 breakout year, better than Mark Fidrych's dream season of 1976 and more impressive than Ted Williams' 1939 debut. Trout posted a .326 average with 30 homers and 83 RBI, but he also scored a phenomenal 129 runs and stole 49 bases. His defense, of course, was outstanding. The man is a human highlight reel.

A pair of Oakland A's round out the remainder of my ballot. Jarrod Parker went 13-8 with a 3.47 ERA and 1.26 WHIP. Cuban sensation Yoenis Cespedes also had a fine rookie year, hitting .292 with 23 homers and 82 RBI. He swiped 16 bases, but due to sub-par defense only merits a 3rd-place ranking.
My American League ballot is:
  1. Mike Trout, CF, Los Angeles Angels
  2. Jarrod Parker, SP, Oakland Athletics
  3. Yoenis Cespedes, LF/CF, Oakland Athletics

Friday, October 5, 2012

2012 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 2012 is the Connie Mack Award, presented to the top manager in each league.

National League

The Giants may have been favoured by many to win the NL West, but finishing eight games ahead of the second-place Dodgers is mighty impressive given the circumstances. Having to play the season without stud closer Brian Wilson, Bochy did a masterful job of managing his bullpen. He also had to contend with losing Melky Cabrera for the last 50 games of the season due to a suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. On top of that, the Dodgers broke open the vault and loaded up with talent in an August trade with the Boston Red Sox.  None of this was a problem for the Giants and they easily pulled away from the Dodgers down the stretch.

Also warranting serious consideration was rookie manager Mike Matheny. Cardinals fans went into 2012 unsure of what to expect after losing slugger Albert Pujols, managing icon Tony Larussa and possibly the best pitching coach in the history of baseball: Dave Duncan. Serious injuries to Lance Berkman and Rafel Furcal added to Matheny's challenges. The ingredients were all there for a rough season in St. Louis, but Matheny found his managerial footing quickly and the Cardinals snagged a wild card spot with an 88-74 record. I wouldn't be surprised to see this team do some damage in the post-season once again.

The Washington Nationals are headed to the playoffs for the first time in their young history thanks to an incredible array of young talent. Manager Davey Johnson is the sentimental favourite in many circles to win the NL manager of the year award, but we're not much for sentimentality on this blog. He did a solid job of guiding his young club, but given the talent available to him and the lack of any serious adversity during the season we don't believe that merits winning manager of the year.

Accordingly, my NL ballot is:
  1. Bruce Bochy - San Fransisco Giants
  2. Mike Matheny - St. Louis Cardinals
  3. Davey Johnson - Washington Nationals
American League

There are two obvious choices for manager of the year in the AL and then there's a huge drop-off in quality candidates. Our choice for the award is Buck Showalter of the Baltimore Orioles. Many had tagged the Orioles for another last-place finish, but the team was baseball's biggest surprise of 2012. Baltimore's 93-69 record is downright stunning when you consider that they only scored seven (!!!) more runs than they gave up. Showalter deserves a good chunk of the credit for his team's perfect 16-0 record in extra innings and their 29-9 mark in one-run games. 

The other obvious choice in the AL for manager of the year is Bob Melvin of the Oakland A's. With a meagre $55 million payroll, the A's shocked the baseball world by winning the AL West over the heavily-favoured Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels. At the All Star break, Oakland had a meagre 41-41 record, but they went on a second-half tear and played .663 baseball the rest of the way. Given their collection of no-name players, Melvin did a wonderful job of getting this group of underdogs into the playoffs.

Honourable mention goes to veteran manager Jim Leyland. Although the Tigers underachieved for much of the season, Leyland rallied the troops for a late-season surge that brought them the AL Central title.

My ballot in the junior circuit is:
  1. Buck Showalter - Baltimore Orioles
  2. Bob Melvin - Oakland Athletics
  3. Jim Leyland - Detroit Tigers