Results tagged ‘ simon castro ’

Quasi-TinCaps Report: 6/2

Part Two of our chat with Padres Minor League Pitching Coordinator Mike Couchee, where he talks about Fort Wayne favorites Simon Castro and Robert Lara, plus the recovery process from Tommy John surgery.

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Emptying the brain: 5/10

The TinCaps aren’t hitting. Again. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Random thoughts:

  • Somebody asked me the question over the off-season and last week I got the answer: How many pitches do minor-league coaches/managers throw during batting practice? About 31 pitches per hitter per day. Manager Shawn Wooten threw 124 pitches to a four-man group and pitching coach Willie Blair threw 101 to a three-man group. If you think that’s easy, try throwing at a target 40 feet away, 124 times in a row without much of a break. If your arm is still attached, you’ll be missing the target by a foot and gasping for air by the time you’re done. I may turn this into an article for the gameday playbill.
  • Former Fort Wayne RHP Brandon Gomes made his MLB debut for Tampa Bay. He’s the 97th alum to make it to The Show.
  • Fort Wayne alum RHP Jake Peavy will make his White Sox debut tomorrow.
  • On the Baseball America Hot Sheet, Jedd Gyorko is hot, Simon Castro is not and you can’t stop Sean Burroughs, you can only hope to contain him. Most of that sounds made up.
  • Legendary author Ben Hill tells us the San Antonio Missions, chock full o’former TinCaps, put up some crazy numbers in April. Crazy good, that is.
  • Padres RHP Aaron Harang actually got to spend Mother’s Day with his mom. That makes one of us.
  • If it were after 2 a.m. and it meant doing my part to end the game, I’d put on a wrestling mask too. Well, truth be told, I’d probably put on a wrestling mask regardless of the situation.
  • I know I’m not always on top of my game, but sometimes I just have to shake my head.
  • No Gus Johnson with CBS Sports anymore? Underdog teams everywhere are frowning. Except teams that will play on the Big Ten Network.
  • Former TinCaps video guy Allan Wertheimer is coming back to Fort Wayne for the weekend. Mothers, hide your free food!

Musical guest… Huey Lewis and The News!

Take care!

DW

It’s the final countdown

It’s a weird feeling right now. I feel like I might be ready for the season to start, but the minute you think that is the minute you realize you forgot something and you’re completely hosed.

News from TinCapsVille:

  • At a meeting between the team and the front office yesterday, everyone in the room said their name and where they were from. It was ripped straight from the script of “D2: Because Everything’s Better When We Can Root for Team USA.”
  • Heard around a chilly, windy batting cage yesterday: “Coming from Arizona, it feels like we’re hitting cement baseballs.”
  • Jake Blackwood hit one over the retaining fence behind the left-field concourse during batting practice yesterday. It’s only BP, but that’s some pop.
  • Here’s the pitching rotation, at least the first time through: RH Keyvius Sampson, RH Zach Cates, RH Matt Branham, RH Adys Portillo, LH Andrew Werner. LH Mark Hardy and RH Matt Jackson will pitch every fourth day as piggyback relievers, meaning the starter will go 5 innings (at most) and the piggyback guy comes in to go 3-4 innings. That’s mostly because there are seven guys the Padres want to develop as starters, but five spots in the rotation. With all the turnover in the minors, the piggyback system keeps these guys ready to step right into the rotation if somebody gets hurt/promoted.
  • During the workout yesterday, the team scouted the idiosyncrasies of Parkview Field. Manager Shawn Wooten and the catchers checked out how the ball will bounce (or not bounce) back off the screen behind home plate. The infielders scouted how the ball comes off the fence along the side of Parkview Field (in case of overthrows) and everybody watched the way the ball rolls down each baseline on bunts. That’s heads-up stuff that can pay off big time.
  • Last year we had RHP Jerry Sullivan playing pianos like a lounge singer at hotels and LHP Mike Watt bringing his guitar on the road. This year we have Cates playing coffeehouse-style guitar shows in the clubhouse and I’ve heard RHP Adam Dominick can play as well. Maybe we’ll book them for post-game concerts on the amphitheater.
  • I told strength coach Reed Wainwright on Monday I’d be in the weight room on a daily basis. I don’t think he believed me until yesterday when I was down there for the second straight day working out for real.
  • C Rocky Gale automatically wins entrance song of the year for selecting Ted Nugent’s “Stranglehold.” The plaque for the alternates is down in the ladies’ room.

Random thoughts:

  • According to former Fort Wayne 3B Chase Headley, the ghost of David Eckstein may have helped the Padres win their home opener yesterday. RHP Aaron Harang had a nice start to pick up the win. If you’ve noticed, the Padres won their first series and they won the opener of their next series against the defending champs without their No. 1 starter. I know it’s a small sample size, but have we underestimated the sneakiness again?
  • Former TinCaps RHP Mat Latos could be activated from the DL early next week.
  • I don’t know how I missed it, but here are some minor-league transactions from Baseball America. Fort Wayne alums RHP Dexter Carter and OF Kellen Kulbacki were released. Carter was re-signed by the White Sox (who drafted him originally, but I think we covered this before).
  • Someone asked BA who would win in a battle of Royals minor-leaguers vs. the rest of the top prospects in MiLB. Something tells me the person who asked that question is a relative of Bob Swerski, who once famously asked who would win in a fight between Mike Ditka and a hurricane.
  • Two things I saw from watching the Rangers-Mariners game on TV last night: Rangers RHP Alexi Ogando could make everybody forget about the Neftali Feliz starter/closer debate, and Mariners RHP Michael Pineda is strikingly similar to former TinCaps RHP Simon Castro. Tall, wiry build, a slightly harder fastball than Castro, a nice slider and needs to use the changeup more or he’ll get beaten by left-handed batters (which Pineda did). Still, he looked good to me.
  • Rockies fans picked Katy Perry’s “Firework” to be SS Troy Tulowitzki’s entrance song. But he slumped, so he changed it to a Justin Beiber song. Because it must’ve been the music.
  • How many more losses before Red Sox fans go into full-on meltdown mode?
  • Yankees RHP Rafael Soriano got knocked around and then left the clubhouse before reporters could track him down to talk. Which is probably the quickest way to getting hammered by the New York media, not to mention your teammates.
  • They might  change the rules about college baseball players and agents.
  • Mustache Watch? I can handle that.
  • That’s enough, Jim Nantz.
  • I got an e-mail from former TinCaps video guy Allan Wertheimer this morning euphorically claiming the hot buffet “IS BACK!!!” at the Vikings compound, where he now works. About 45 minutes later, he sent this picture message to my phone, captioned “YES!!!!!!!” Apparently the Vikings are bringing in 30 draft prospects today (many of them 300+ pounds) and somehow the video guy is the one everybody’s staring at for eating too much.
  • Speaking of breakfast, my family is coming to town for the first series of the season. I’m not sure why, but I’m pretty excited to make a Wertheimer-size breakfast for us on Friday.

Musical guest… OK Go!

Take care!

DW

Firing it through the internet

Here goes another day of just firing things through the internet

Today, Parkview Field will get a lot greener. That’s because our homeboys on the grounds crew, Keith Winter and Rob Dworkin, will spray green turf dye on the grass. And they’re not just painting it to make it look pretty or to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. The dye traps heat and helps kick-start the growing process for the year.

We’ll have what local news outlets would call “in-depth team coverage” on TinCaps.com (in reality, it’s just two dudes covering a quasi-story you’ll forget about in 15 minutes, we’re just honest about it). I’ll take a before-and-after photo and KoKo Greer will have time-lapse video. Maybe you’ll even get the treat of a conversation with Keith Winter. You won’t want to miss that, I guarantee it.

Random thoughts:

  • Former TinCaps LHP Colt Hynes pitched another scoreless inning yesterday against the Angels. C Nick Hundley doubled twice, 3B Chase Headley had a rare tough day and LHP Wade LeBlanc had bad results but liked the process.
  • Hynes, LHP Rob Musgrave, RHP Casey Kelly and OF Cedric Hunter were reassigned to minor-league camp yesterday. Hunter is having a really good camp. You know, if a .520 OBP is what you consider good.
  • Padres RHP Chad Qualls was “not healthy” last year. Surprise!
  • Here’s something called a Prospect Smackdown between former TinCaps RHP Simon Castro and RHP Casey Kelly. Anything that includes the name of a second-tier pro wrestling show (and discusses relevant stuff) is first-tier material for this blog.
  • We have the good kind of “you just never know” when relative no-name players make it big. There is also the bad kind of “you just never know” when a can’t-miss prospect, uh… misses.
  • So far, Nationals can’t-miss prospect Bryce Harper is still in the can’t-miss category. Just ask anyone.
  • While Carlos Santana was putting the beat-down of a lifetime on the Brewers yesterday, Grady Sizemore is getting ready to make his spring debut this weekend.
  • A prospect the Diamondbacks found falsified his name, and after his contract was voided, he’s with the Yankees and considered a legit player. Weird all the way around.
  • Now that they’ve signed Ryan Hanigan to a long-term deal, the Reds seem to have some catching depth and other teams are calling to ask about it. In reality, they don’t seem to have a surplus to trade from, they just have a lot of good catchers at different stages of development.
  • The Pirates signed a 16-year-old pitcher out of Mexico and will send him to the Gulf Coast League where he’ll be one of the youngest players in the league. Usually guys like that get sent to the Dominican or Venezuelan leagues.
  • A’s closer Andrew Bailey only has a forearm strain… Which is good, compared to elbow problems. He already had Tommy John surgery.
  • Michael Wilbon says the NCAA Tournament stinks compared to what it used to be.
  • While the rest of the universe is reminiscing about that one time Charlie Sheen was relevant again, I’ll tell you who you should start following on your favorite social network sites: Neil Diamond. Exhibit A: A photo of Neil going through customs on his way back from Australia. You might say his credentials are unlimited. Exhibit B: Where else will you find photos of Neil Diamond eating at In-N-Out Burger?

Musical guest… Neil Diamond!

Take care!

DW

One last shot

Remember the stockholders meeting in “Mr. Deeds” when Deeds tells everyone they should try to be what they wanted to be when they were six years old instead of doing what made them the most money? Well, when I was six years old I wanted to be a famous athlete. By the time I was 15, I realized not everyone stopped growing when they were 15, and now here I am. Like Kenny Powers before he started taking steroids: washed up, damaged goods with a fastball in the 70s and no hitting abilities. Too short for basketball, too non-roided-up for football or pro wrestling. I need something that isn’t dependent on being a physical freak with moderate athletic ability. I need something anyone can succeed at if they work at it long enough. I’ve decided my final hope at athletic greatness may just be curling.

So tomorrow, I’m starting my journey toward Olympic glory with a Learn To Curl session with the Fort Wayne Curling Club. I figure if the U.S. Olympic curling team had a bartender, construction worker, substitute teacher and parole officer (which wouldn’t be bad identities for the 2010 version of The Village People) last Olympics, a radio guy has as good a chance as anyone. So I’ll see you suckers in Georgia in 2014. The country of Georgia, not the state. I’ll be the one with the gold medal.

Also, Abby Naas is going to try curling as well. Prediction: She falls down on the ice like an infant deer and fractures a wrist. Or in the words of Clubber Lang… Prediction? You know the rest.

Also, “Mr. Deeds” got a 24 on Metacritic? And “Taken” got a 50? Really? Sure it’s cheesy, but “Mr. Deeds” is funny and incredibly rewatchable. I suppose “Taken” is too, but for entirely different reasons.

Random thoughts:

  • Fort Wayne alum OF Cedric Hunter hit a three-run homer on his birthday as the Padres beat the Dodgers. Watching the tape-delayed broadcast on MLB Network, I am happy to report that Hunter’s home run ball was caught on one bounce by a shirtless guy wearing jorts, who promptly fell down on the grass berm. In former TinCaps box score trolling, Simon Castro and Rob Musgrave pitched a scoreless inning each and Jeudy Valdez went 1-for-2 with a stolen base.
  • Former TinCaps RHP Mat Latos faces the Giants tonight.
  • Former Fort Wayne LHP Cory Luebke looks like he’s going to Triple-A to open the season according to this.
  • Highlights from yesterday’s Union-Tribune Padres chat: Latos’ reaction after tough spring performances is troubling, San Diego may be interested in Rangers C Taylor Teagarden as a backup now that Gregg Zaun retired, RHP Heath Bell had a motorized cooler that once broke down between the dugout and the bullpen at Petco Park, players on the 40-man roster must stay in big-league camp through Sunday (March 13), at least four MLB players have to be available to play in each Spring Training game and someone wanted to know the best place to “spot” Padres off the field. Whoever asked that question is what we call a cleat chaser. And there are male and female cleat chasers. And they’re more common in the minors than I ever imagined before I got into baseball.
  • This is a story about Padres OF Chris Denorfia, but he talks about how long it took him to fully recover from Tommy John surgery, which is of interest to former Fort Wayne INF/OF Kyle Blanks.
  • Former Fort Wayne RHP Jake Peavy feels better a day after his first start of Spring Training.
  • Not a whole lot interesting from the minor-league transactions report, but here it is anyway.
  • Mets LHP Johan Santana doesn’t sound like he’s going to be ready to pitch anytime soon.
  • The Rangers’ new owner might become the Rangers’ former owner soon. Which is a bummer, because he had a lot of success as the owner of the Double-A Altoona Curve.
  • In this notebook, the Phillies could be a fit for Rangers INF Michael Young and Kendry Morales now spells his first name Kendrys, which is his given name. Uh, what?
  • Twins OF Ben Revere, a former MWLer, is proving the haters wrong.
  • Question: Why would Tommy Hilfiger decide to show off what sports uniforms would look like if they designed them? Answer: Because ESPN asked them to. And they look horrible.
  • As much as I want to defend Ohio State football, they’re in trouble. You can’t sign something saying you knew nothing, then come out months later saying you knew something, which is what I’ve heard happened. But there’s pressure on these guys to make big money for the school, and coming out with information like this mid-season might mean losing, which means less money. What have we learned here? Tell the truth. Money ruins everything. Setting high moral standards for yourself makes everyone fall all over themselves to hammer you when you when you make a mistake. Because it’s better to just not even try doing something difficult because then you can’t fail, right?
  • This looks like one of the most fun vacation ideas of all time.

Musical guest… Pearl Jam!

Have a great weeken
d!

DW

Just an observation

Last night I watched some of the MLB Network “30 Clubs in 30 Days” on the Rockies. The one thing that stood out to me was from a “wired for sound” clip of RHP Huston Street.

While doing whatever pitchers do when stretching at Spring Training, Street said something to the effect of, “All of last year, there were probably only one or two times when an umpire missed a [ball/strike] call. I’d think for sure they’d missed one, but I’d watch tape after the game and I was wrong; they were right.”

This is important for a couple of reasons: Most people who wear a professional baseball uniform sincerely believe they are always right, even when there’s substantial evidence to the contrary. Street, in particular, is from Texas, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Texan admit he or she is wrong. So this is truly groundbreaking stuff.

Secondly, Huston Street threw 714 pitches last year. SEVEN HUNDRED FOURTEEN. And of those 714 pitches, he says the umpires missed one or two calls. Obviously this is an obscenely small sample size, but the point is that umpires are pretty darn good at their jobs. Would replay help them get even more calls right? Sure, but it’s tough to implement until it can be collectively bargained.

Until then, I think we can preemptively cut umpires some slack and let them do their jobs. Deal?

Random thoughts:

  • Lots of Fort Wayne alums saw the field yesterday in the Padres-Royals game. Mat Latos struggled with his command and Simon Castro gave up a couple of doubles, but Anthony Bass pitched a scoreless inning. The middle of the Padres’ order did well.
  • Fort Wayne alum RHP Jake Peavy threw a 40-pitch bullpen session with some intensity and felt fine afterward.
  • Fort Wayne alum OF Michael Cuddyer will miss 1-2 more weeks after having a wart removed from his foot.
  • Not a whole lot notable about this week’s minor-league transactions, but here they are anyway.
  • The Cardinals’ pitchers are dropping like flies.
  • The Indians are planning to open the regular season without Grady Sizemore, but that could change.
  • Former Midwest Leaguer RHP Jacob Turner pitched in an MLB spring training game and looked good.
  • Brewers RHP Zack Greinke says he “doesn’t know why” he was a fan favorite in Kansas City and he hurt his ribs away from the field and it was “stupid.” This guy has unwittingly become one of the best interviews in baseball by simply being honest.
  • One of the secretly-most-important (and nice) people in baseball passed away, says Peter Gammons.
  • Every athlete claims he just ignores everything and tries to keep focused on playing the game, but with Josh Hamilton you get the feeling it’s actually true thanks to some of the things that have happened with him.
  • Rich Eisen running the 40-yard dash is my favorite thing a sports TV host does all year. Because anyone who calls himself “an icon” immediately after running a 6.18-second 40-yard dash is OK with me. I’d like to think I run the fastest 40 of any radio guy in the Midwest League (if not all of baseball) and I’ll prove it anytime, anywhere.
  • HUGE rec-league volleyball tournament tonight. Our team (soon to be known as the Malibu Sands Beach Club) may just be peaking at the right time.

Musical guest… Van Halen!

Take care!

DW

TinCaps on the radio – sort of

If you’re in a place where you can listen to things on the internet this afternoon, listen to the Padres-Royals game. Former TinCaps RHP Mat Latos is supposed to throw two innings and Simon Castro is expected to pitch one inning. These guys were here in Fort Wayne less than two years ago.

Random thoughts:

  • Indiana and Notre Dame will play soccer at Parkview Field again in 2011. Last year the game came down to penalty kicks. You can order tickets here.
  • I’m not a huge soccer guy, but I liked the World Cup last year. Nick Greenwood is a big soccer guy and taught newbies like me what to watch for.
  • Fort Wayne alum LHP Wade LeBlanc is looking to iron things out after an up-and-down season last year.
  • Former TinCaps LHP Juan Oramas is back to playing catch after straining his shoulder.
  • Fort Wayne alum 3B Chase Headley had a nice game from the right side of the plate, which is good early reinforcement after he spent time working on that this off-season.
  • Baseball America has a follow-up piece to its Top 100
    prospects list… A, inevitably, a lot of people ask how close Player X was
    to making the cut. Former TinCaps OF Jaff Decker (and LHP Cory Luebke) got some love, but not nearly enough to crack the list.
  • The Padres hope CF Cameron Maybin delivers on his big potential. So much so that two different people wrote about it.
  • Here’s a stat-based Padres preview.
  • Nationals megaprospect OF Bryce Harper is batting .000 with a 100% strikeout rate in Spring Training. What a waste of $10 million, right?
  • Who yaps in a Spring Training game? Prince Fielder, that’s who. I’ve heard stories from when he was in rookie ball – apparently he yelled “Boom!” when he hit a ball hard. People had to tell him to stop, otherwise he would’ve led the universe in times hit by a pitch.
  • Prospects for the Royals and Giants have hit well early in camp.
  • A former MWLer is going to blog this season.
  • A different former MWLer learned his unorthodox delivery by throwing tomahawks in his backyard. He also had a sweet mustache which got him some attention. Just when I thought this guy sounded like someone I would’ve gone to high school with, I found out he’s from Michigan. I was immediately furious with myself.
  • Robb Quinlan after finding out his locker at Phillies’ camp was near those of Roy Oswalt, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels: “I imagine I’ll start the opener… I mean, who else in here would start?” He’s not even a pitcher, which makes this even funnier.
  • This article comes at it from a fantasy baseball angle, but the point is, ERA isn’t always a great measure of a pitcher’s effectiveness.
  • The new bat rules are already having an effect on college baseball.
  • I think we all know pro baseball is better than pro basketball, but here’s more proof.
  • I heard the other day that Mumford & Sons’ sales are up something like 175% since they performed on the Grammys. Color me unsurprised – they’re good.
  • One day I’ll go to this. And this.

Musical guest… The Allman Brothers!

Take care!

DW

Just call them Casey Kasem

“And now… on with the countdown.”

Right around noon yesterday, Baseball America released their Top 100 prospect list for 2011. I didn’t really get time to look at it all that closely until this morning, so here are initial thoughts:

  1. The only former TinCap on the list is RHP Simon Castro at No. 58. He was 57th last year. BA says he’ll get to the big leagues this year. From a selfish standpoint, hopefully he doesn’t get there before mid-July when the Tucson Padres come to Fort Wayne. Simon was one of my favorite pitchers I’ve covered. The others, if you’re wondering, were Matt Lollis and Nationals RHP Jordan Zimmermann.
  2. Any list like this is really more about generalities than “Player X is one spot higher than Player Y, so Player X is going to be the better player.” Historically, if you’re in the top five, you’re probably going to have a good-to-great major-league career. Beyond that, it’s a mix of guys who have shown some kind of weakness, some bigger than others. The ones who make it big are the ones who shore up the weaknesses and turn themselves into elite players. That’s why it’s an educated guess after you get past the first handful of players.
  3. Royals fans have to be happy with three prospects in the top 10.
  4. Just because a player isn’t ranked high, don’t write him off. Anybody considered to be in the top 100 of what they do is pretty good. Examples: Mike Trout went from No. 85 last year to No. 2 this year, Rockies RHP Jhoulys Chacin was No. 71 last year and he had a really nice MLB debut last year. So did Mets 1B Ike Davis (62).
  5. These are all just for fun. Everything figures itself out once the games start. Which is not far off, by the way.

Secondly, another story I didn’t get to expand on yesterday… the Padres are holding a prospect minicamp in Peoria to give some of their top minor-leaguers an early start. The list of players is here. If they haven’t played in Fort Wayne yet, I’d say chances are good they’ll be here soon. But then again, speculating on an Opening Day roster before minor-league spring training even starts is a good way to guess wrong.

Random thoughts:

  • If you haven’t been keeping up with the Facebook, you can check out the TinCaps’ lineup of theme nights for 2011 at TinCaps.com. The photo attached to the story might be my favorite article photo in our site’s history.
  • You can audition to sing the national anthem before a TinCaps game. But I’m warning you now: if you drag the song out and make it too long, I will zipline down from the press box to the field and sweep you out of here like it’s amateur night at the Apollo.
  • Fort Wayne alum LHP Cory Luebke will pitch in the Padres’ Spring Training opener Sunday(!) against the Mariners. Also in that article: Heath Bell won’t be available for the weekend and former TinCaps LHP Juan Oramas strained his throwing shoulder last week and hasn’t thrown since.
  • SPRING TRAINING GAMES START ON SUNDAY!
  • Padres SS Jason Bartlett and 2B Orlando Hudson are learning to play together.
  • This isn’t the first story like this I’ve seen about Hudson having a Type-A personality (I also saw an MLB Productions piece about him last year). He has to be the early favorite for 2011 clubhouse leader.
  • The Padres think they got lucky with their catchers last year and are hoping for better depth this year.
  • Fort Wayne alum RHP Jake Peavy threw live batting practice yesterday. So far, so good in his rehab from a freak injury.
  • Yankees C Russell Martin’s knee still isn’t quite right. As a fantasy baseball owner of Jesus Montero, I hope Martin sits long enough to let Montero play his way into the starting job.
  • Rays GM Andrew Friedman looks kind of like a certain mid-major basketball star. Friedman may play better defense than Jimmer, and I’m only half-kidding.
  • Brewers RHP Zack Grienke doesn’t really do
    the whole cliche thing. Example: “…every day I come to the park and
    want to get focused on my start, and then random people come and waste
    my time talking every day. It takes eight minutes to get a real question because they’re, like, buttering me up. Then they get to the question and it’s a stupid question. So it’s a waste of ten minutes, and in that ten minute time, I don’t get to do what I needed to do.” If reporters are allowed to critique a player’s performance, it’s only fair that the player can return the favor.
  • From Buster Olney: The three pitchers who used their curveball the most last season were Brett Myers, Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright. Carpenter already had Tommy John surgery and it looks like Wainwright is on his way there.
  • The Mariners have a lot of tall pitchers. Same goes for their minor-league system.
  • Indians closer (and former MWLer) Chris Perez is adding a changeup. He was pretty good without one last year.
  • The Rockies think Vegas is underestimating them this year. But, as Padres GM Jed Hoyer told me last year when we talked about San Diego beating expectations, they don’t build those casinos by losing money. Meaning the handicappers are usually right.
  • Three MLB umpires are retiring. Maybe MLB already had replacements lined up, but it seems like four days before Spring Training is awfully late to announce something like this.
  • Which is better: preventing runs or scoring runs? Research shows preventing runs has the slight edge. Key word: slight.
  • What does a college that produced 31 Nobel Prize winners lack? A basketball win… until the other night.
  • The NBA is no longer fan-tastic. In other news, we landed on the moon.
  • Our rec league volleyball team played like champions last night. Last time I saw volleyball that good, it was at the Malibu Sands Beach Club.
  • If you’re looking to adopt a pet, PLEASE go to Animal Care & Control. It’s your tax dollars at work anyway, so make them count. I hung out with three dogs there yesterday and they were awesome. But I’m still partial to this one.

Musical guest… the group that sang the first No. 1 Casey Kasem ever counted to… Three Dog Night!

Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars!

DW

Under pressure

Here’s a hypothetical situation… Imagine it’s 2013. Jay Bruce hasn’t signed his huge contract, so he’s two years away from free agency and a huge payday. He’s one of the best young players in baseball. He’s going to play for Team USA in the upcoming 2013 World Baseball Classic. Usually the tournament is a fun international competition. But this year, Jay Bruce and seven other Americans HAVE to win. Why? Because if Team USA doesn’t win, those eight guys will be drafted into the United States military for two years of mandatory service. If they try to skip out of their service, they’ll face arrest or will have to leave the country, unable to return.

That would be a big story, wouldn’t it? Star athletes with two years of peak production (and millions of dollars) on the line. Win or else. So why wasn’t it a bigger story this off-season when Shin-Soo Choo went through almost the same situation?

Acceptable answers: (1) He plays in Cleveland and (2) he’s from South Korea.

Choo went bananas at the Asian Games (.571 with three homers and 11 RBIs), his South Korean team won the gold medal and Choo is now exempt from serving in the South Korean military. He says he was 50-50 on what he would have done if the Koreans hadn’t won: maybe he would have never gone back home, maybe he would have served. As a Cleveland fan, I’m glad he didn’t have to make the decision.

Lord knows we’ve had enough Decisions in the last year.

Anyway, while everybody was falling all over themselves to cover the Derek Jeter contract pout-fest, Shin-Soo Choo was the main character in a far more interesting story. He’s my choice for under-reported baseball story of the off-season.

Random thoughts:

  • Minor-league transactions from the past week were posted yesterday… Two TinCaps from the 2010 squad (RHP Jon Berger and OF Bo Davis) were released by the Padres. LHP Nathan Culp, who was Fort Wayne’s opening day starter in 2007, retired.
  • Also, the Rays signed RHP Juan Cruz to help their bullpen. He was dominant with Arizona in 2007 and ’08 but tanked the last two years with Kansas City. For a team that is trying to rebuild the bullpen, it’s a nice signing.
  • Another signing: The Padres picked up 35-year-old LHP Randy Flores on a minor-league deal. He was really good for Colorado last year (2-0, 2.96 ERA in 47G) but the wheels fell off late, the Rockies waived him, then he stunk it up for the Twins. He’s the definition of a situational lefty and the Padres already have ISU Sycamore Joe Thatcher, so Flores will have to be really good this spring to make the big-league team.
  • Five spring training storylines for the Padres.
  • Highlights of the latest Padres chat from the SD Union-Tribune: Mat Latos will be treated like everybody else when it comes to innings this year, the Yankees may have interest in trading for Wade LeBlanc, Simon Castro and Casey Kelly could be in the MLB rotation by mid-season and Adrian Gonzalez accounted for 23.6 percent of the Padres’ runs produced (runs + RBIs minus HR) total last year.
  • Fort Wayne alum LHP Oliver Perez hasn’t gotten to Mets’ spring training yet, and the New York Post wants to rip him, but they don’t do it directly.
  • Who signed the worst free-agent contract in baseball history, according to the Orioles’ GM? Alex Rodriguez with the Rangers.
  • Here’s a decent Michael Young trade watch; he was almost sent to the Rockies and the Dodgers had interest, but that’s been about it. Supposedly.
  • Nine questions for the Cardinals entering spring training. I have a sixth: Will LaRussa let Colby Rasmus play every day? He played 144 games last year, but at least 15 of those he entered as a pinch hitter. Those two don’t seem to be getting along.
  • Saturday in LA, some of the best high-school players in the country will attend an MLB showcase. One of them is Wayne Gretzky’s son.
  • Headline from a Chicago paper: “Call me crazy, but it’s a Sox town now.” You’re crazy.
  • Somebody is going to take Ron Santo’s seat in the Cubs’ radio booth, but nobody knows who that is yet.
  • Stephen Strasburg threw for the first time since Tommy John surgery.
  • The Indians signed Orlando Cabrera to play second base. A slap-hitting infielder with a .303 OBP who has been on playoff teams a lot, but has rarely been brought back to those playoff teams. At least he can fill in at short and it’s only a one-year deal. This looks like insurance in case prospect 2B Jason Kipnis doesn’t work out.
  • Josh Hamilton says he hopes to be part of the Rangers’ organization long-term. The Rangers say they want him around long-term. So why did he only sign a two-year deal?
  • Yesterday I mentioned Ross Ohlendorf winning his arbitration case against the Pirates. Now, Jared Weaver lost his case with the Angels. The initial reaction is “that’s crazy,” but it’s not that crazy. They’re not really comparable cases.
  • Also recently, we wondered if the Year of the Pitcher was at least partially thanks to new bat-diameter rules. Turns out, it almost definitely wasn’t.
  • Former MWLer Mark Buehrle loves dogs, but he doesn’t love Michael Vick.
  • MiLB.com has a story about a white player who broke the color barrier in reverse.
  • Legendary author Ben Hill tells us about a minor-league team hosting a unique promotion: A human cannonballist will try to shoot himself over the outfield wall from home plate. The world-record di
    stance for non-American Gladiators human cannonball is 185 feet. According to this, the shortest porch at Lowell’s park is 301 feet (down the right-field line). If my calculations are correct, instead of a home run, this guy is going to be a screaming line drive to right. If I lived in the northeast, I’d be buying my tickets yesterday just to see how this turns out.
  • Here’s a website that looks like it has some staying power.
  • When I was sick last weekend, I went to the grocery store and I must have been in a fog because I bought a loaf of bread when I didn’t really need it. So to get rid of the extra bread, I’m going to try making French Freedom toast for the first time at some point this weekend. And you’d better believe I’m putting cinnamon into the mix. Because cinnamon takes a backseat to NO BABKA!

Musical guest… Queen!

Have a great weekend!

DW

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