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Regardless, the changes allowed us to see much more easily whether ornot a comment has been left in a thread. Previously, you’d have to gofishing into each column, and that took a long time. But now you cansee nice and easily, which has allowed me to go back and find a wholeboatload of previously unnoticed comments.
So rather than simply answer them where they sit, I figured we’d shinea little light on them and crank out a Notes From The Nat mailbag.
Comment in a story about Ty Bubalo’s switch to the Frontier League:
"Shawn Martinez also plays for them."
Actually, the anonymous commenter was right, though he/she isn’tanymore. Martinez signed on with the Otters before Bubalo did, back inJanuary, but when it came time to start the season, he opted instead toretire. More’s the pity. Who knows what sort of damage theBubalo/Martinez combo could have done in the indies? Bubalo, for hispart, is currently hitting .250 for Evansville, with one dinger on theyear.
Comment from The Shullacker:
"Hello this is jimmy shull. Thank you for the nice things you have saidabout me last year and now after this injury. It is true that I amgoing to have Tommy John, looks like sometime next week. And you areright, anything that I can do to come back better, WILL BE DONE."
I don’t know what a guy could add to that, other than "GO GET ‘EM, SHULLACKER!"
And it’s always nice to find another NTFN nickname has found apermanent life beyond a player’s time in Vancouver. I look forward tohearing the name "Shullacker" spoken by Oakland’s announcers some timein the near future, as Jimmy Shull bounces back from TJ and continuesto dominate hitters.
"OZZZZZ, Whats up? Ive been following the new blog and love it. Hopeall is well and keep me posted on how you are doing and if there isanything new with the book from the ‘Couv. Thanks for the love on thesite. - Drucker"
And a big howdy to the man with the world’s largest collection of Air Jordan’s, current Stockton starting pitcher and 2004 Vancouver Canadians perma-grin, Scot Drucker.To answer your question, Druck, the book I was writing on the 2004Canadians has so far had a home at three (count ‘em) three differentpublishers, two of which had second thoughts after the guys whooptioned the book got fired (such is life in Canadian publishing), andone of which went bankrupt a week after scheduling it for a release.
So right now it’s in cotton wool, but the book lives on. It’s increasedin scope, and will now look at several years of C’s teams, where theywent after Vancouver, the stories they collected while in V-Town, lifein baseball, etc etc. Look for it some time around 2008-9.
Or 2010-11. Or 2016-17…
There’s more in the mailbag, after the fold.
"JR Pickens is going to play for the Qu?bec Capitales in the Can-AMleague this year. If you don’t believe me go on their website, hisprofile is up in their roster."
You’re right. Or, you were right. The 2002 Oakland 10thround draftee, who had struggled mightily, spending four years in Aball or worse, was released at the end of last season and took rootwith the Capitales, before being traded to the Coastal Bend Aviators ofthe American Association of Independent Baseball. So far, he’s lightingthings up, with a line showing 4-1 with a 2.35 ERA over 11 gamespitching relief. He’s holding opposition bats to a .205 BA, whilestriking out 15 and walking just 3 over 11 innings pitched.
Interesting side note: It seems the Lincoln SaltDogs picked up 2004-5Vancouver pitcher, Clay Tichota, in February of this year, beforecutting him a few weeks ago. The only mention I can find of how he did on the Saltdogs website, doesn’t sound like he had fun:
"In the bottom of the eighth, Fort Worth answered back and regainedthe lead off Saltdog reliever Clay Tichota, who hit the first batter hefaced and walked the next two to load the bases with no outs."
Six days later, Clay was sent home.
"Any information on Jess Lacasse?"
Not really. The Bellevue University division III All-American pitcher,27th round draftee, and teammate of 2005 Vancouver pitcher Ron Madejwas unceremoniously sent to Arizona, then cut, without getting much ofa chance to show his wares last season. According to the searching I’vedone, he hasn’t resurfaced anywhere in a baseball uniform. Maybe ifhe’s reading this, he can drop us a note with an update, but that’s allI have.
"Just linked to your site from Athletics Nation. Very nice. Wellwritten and well laid out. I am an A’s fan currently residing in SanJose, but in the process of relocating to South Carolina. In additionto getting satellite radio, I’m compiling a list of the blogs I’ll bechecking out. Yours is now on the list. I thought this three-partseries on your visit here was especially well done, although I thinkyou were a little too hard on Oakland. You nailed Palo Alto. It couldbe I like your stuff so much because I share your opinion of the Giantsand Bonds."
Yeah, Bonds is an absolute ass, isn’t he? I don’t think I’ve seen himbreak a jog this season, even trailing deep flyballs in left field withthe game on the line.
It’s true that I gave Oakland a rough time in my three-part series, butyou have to understand, I live in Vancouver. Next to this city, therearen’t many cities that match up well.
"Shawn Callahan awaiting duty due to only catching under 50 games in his life. "
Yeah, it sure seems as if Cally will be back in Vancouver this season.He hasn’t shown up in Kane County or Stockton, and though he was reallycoming along last season, especially towards the end, if Oakland draftscatchers in the opening rounds of the draft, we’re going to see DirtyHarry stuck in another season of short season roster merry-go-round.
"Not a shocker that Bubs and Tietje are gone, considering Chalon didn’t play that last half of the season in 05"
I disagree. I thought that Oakland would stick with Bubalo for anotheryear, due to the fact that they drafted him out of high school, so hewasn’t exactly ancient. Granted, he was progressing slower than they’dlike, but the guy can send the ball long. Sometimes.
With Tietje, he sturck me as the kind of guy that you want to keeparound to keep the kids in line. .A well-behaved, honest, smart,happy-to-help individual who could hit the cover off the ball at times,but really didn’t get a great shot at proving himself last season dueto a roster logjam of older players, which saw him taken off theroster, even though he was still with the team.
I honestly hoped that Oakland would do with him what they did withBenny Winslow - stick it out for another season, and if he didn’t spikein stats, then simply ease him into a coaching role, which he wouldhave been great for. But I guess there’s only so many of those spots aclub can give…
Many of us right now are living in hope that Juan is right. Just as the Oakland A’s have experienced dramatic highs and dramatic lows all season long (right now - big low), so too have their short-season affiliate, the Vancouver Canadians, but right now the C’s are starting to get a distinct roll on.
The C’s killed all in the early stages of the season, going to a .700 win average and staying there for over a month, but the bats dried up at the middle stages, and only convulsions by Everett and Salem-Kaizer have allowed the sometimes awful Canadians to hang on to an NWL West division lead.
But that was then, and right now the Vancouver lads are breaking out of a string of slumps across the board. Ty Bubalo is belting home runs, Anthony Recker is belting them even longer, Steve Kleen is hitting everything, Justin Sellers is doing backflips in the infield, Mike Massaro is coming back into form, Wilber Perez and Isaac Omura are no longer considered defensive liabilities, and the pitching… well, the pitching is just insanely good, top to bottom. In fact, even when the pitching is awful, it’s awful in an extremely fast, massively-breaking, ‘holy crap’ kinda way.
One of the big problems for the C’s has been getting used to the ‘don’t swing for the fences’ wisdom regarding Nat Bailey Stadium’s outfield. "Some of the guys are still trying to fight it," said Chad Boyd a week ago. "When I first came up I struggled because I didn’t accept it. Now I love it. This park forces you to be a better hitter."
"We hadn’t been getting too many good at-bats lately, especially with men in scoring position. Our hitters have been trying to do too much," Navarrete told the Sun, before adding, "We were not getting the key hit or the breaks for a while. […] We turned things around in Everett. Now we’re playing well again."
So can the C’s end the season on a roll? "We know we’ll be facing a good team in Salem-Keizer," Navarrete said, "We just have to concentrate on playing our game."
With only one win needed for the C’s to lock in an NWL play-off spot, tonight’s starter for Vancouver will be Mike Madsen (6-1, 1.68), who is filth. Salem-Kaizer will be starting with… bah, I don’t even care. Whoever he is, he’s no Mike Madsen.
Another run in the 7th inning gave Everett a 5-run cushion, beforeSalem-Kaizer’s bats finally woke up, scoring three late runs in a ‘toolittle, too late’ effort that sees Vancouver rack up a 2-game leadgoing into the final series of the NWL season; a 3 game outing thatpits the 1st place Canadians against 2nd place Lava-Men, with the C’sneeding only one win out of three games to soldifiy their place in theNWL Championship Series.
|September 4, 2005|
So it’s Go Time. Vancouver now sits with a 1 1/2 game advantage overSalem-Kaizer, and the Volcanoes have to beat Everett tonight to keepthemselves in contact with the Canadian-based NWL leaders.
But how many games does Vancouver need to win to ensure themselves aplace in the playoffs? And who will they face? We break down each ofthe scenarios for you in this Notes From The Nat exclusive.
Salem-Kaizer and Everett play tonight, and that game will determinewhat Vancouver needs to do in order to secure a playoff spot, but theimportant thing to note is that the Canadians have a 1-game cushionover the Volcanoes in head-to-head competition this season so far,which means:
Scenario 1: Everett wins tonight.
This would be great for Vancouver, as it would mean that taking onegame off Salem-Kaizer in the final series of the year would send V-Townto the playoffs, while Salem-Kaizer would need to sweep the series toearn the right to attend the championship series as, in this scenario,head-to-head results don’t matter. Unless a game gets rained out, inwhich case it all gets funky.
Scenario 2: Salem-Kaizer wins tonight.
This scenario would mean Salem-Kaizer is just one game behind Vancouverin the standings, which would mean that Vancouver would definitely needto win twice to get to the playoffs, while only one Vancouver victorywould see the teams level in the standings at season end, but wouldmean Salem-Kaizer is one game ahead in head-to-head competition, andwould see them go to the championship round.
Scenario 3: It rains tonight.
Salem-Kaizer sits 1.5 games behind Vancouver going into the last seriesof the year, and one win for the Canadians in the upcoming series wouldhand a playoff berth to the C’s.
Either way - Vancouver needs two wins to be sure of a play-off spot. Be sure to tune into the Volcanoes/Aquasox game on http://www.aquasox.com, and cheer the Frogs home.
So who will Vancouver see in the playoffs if they get there?
Tough to say. Spokane and Tri-City are level pegging on 34-38 (yes,that’s right, the NWL East leaders are playing sub-.500 ball), andBoise is only 2 games behind them. The winner of tonight’s game willsplit the tie for first place, but it’ll likely go down to the finaltwo games before we have a clear winner.
Now, word from the C’s front office is that the championship serieswill start in Vancouver on the 8th and 9th of the month, then go to theother team’s home ground for the final three games (if the opponent isBoise, a free travel day will be utilized on the 10th), but if Spokanewins the NWL East, the first two games of the championship series willbe played there, because they have a scheduling conflict at theirstadium on the final days of the playoffs.
Makes sense? Good.
Note: UPDATE! Everett beat Salem-Kaizer5-3 tonight, which puts Scenario 1 into play: Vancouver needs just onewin in the Salem-Kaizer series to earn a playoff place!
And from there it just got ugly for the Ems.
With Sellers on base, Steve Kleen came to the plate, fresh from aweek that saw him finally break out of his two-week slump by hittinghomeruns, doubles, and wielding the lumber like a hitter possessed.Kleen wasted no time, singling to move Sellers to 2nd, before threeVancouver doubles, from Jose Garcia, Anthony Recker and Ty Bubalo, madeit a 4-run opening inning for the C’s.
So how did the Emeralds respond? By being blanked for six inningsstraight by Vancouver starting pitcher Jeff Gray (left), who conceded just 2hits, no walks, no runs, and struck out one hitter to see Vancouverinto the 6th inning, where Justin Sellers sac’ed home Wilber Perez tostretch the V-Town lead to 5.
Of course, to expect it to be bump-free would just be altogether toomuch, especially with Curveball Corchado called in to relieve Gray inthe 7th. Corchado worked his way through one inning of ball without toomuch problem, and after Perez singled with the bases loaded in the 7th,driving in Baisley and Garcia to make the score 7-0 Van City, Curveballwent on his usual routine of pitching incredible stuff, then pitchingweak, non-breaking, erratic garbage allowed a run to score on a wildpitch, then walked the bases loaded before Long John Herrera was calledin to get the C’s out of the inning.
Long John is a decent pitcher who has had a string of poor outings oflate, but he got to work pretty well, getting two outs with conceding arun before giving up a 2-out, 2-RBI single that saw the Emeralds comeback to 7-4 before the inning ended.
Herrera stayed in for the 9th and closed the game down well, but thereal pity is that the C’s let the Emeralds off the hook from a shut-out.
|September 4, 2005|
* All hail Steve Kleen. Despite being the butt of many jokes over thelast month as he crumbled in the face of a nasty slump that saw himpicked off bases, struck out, and dropping balls aplenty in the field,Kleen has delivered the requisite comeback to form, and then gonebeyond good form into MVP status. At a time when Vancouver REALLYneeded someone to take the wheel and help get some runs on the board,efforts like Kleen’s 4-5 outing today will go a long way to wardsexplaining the late season resurgence of the Canadians in the face ofSalem-Kaizer’s week-long winning streak. Nice work, Squeaky. Now bringus home.
* Jose Garcia, who likes to swing at anything he sees coming at him,has showed a little plate patience over the past few games that iscoming in REALLY helpful for the C’s as he slots into the clean-upspot. Garcia went 2-4 today, with both hits being doubles, and he alsodrove in 2 and scored 2 himself. That’s a great productive performancefor a guy who, until recently, could be counted on to give up an outmore often than not. If Garcia learns to lay off bad pitches, he’stotal Moneyball material - big, strong, athletic, fast (for his size)and capable of a good long hit over the outfielders.
* Anthony Recker’s resurgence continues like a freight train. Afterhitting a Nat Bailey home run last night (not an easy task), Reckerknocked out 2-4 with a double, a run scored and an RBI. Ty Bubalo ismatching Recker, hit for hit, right now, and he too notched 2 hits onthe night, going 2-3 before making way for the recently promoted AndrePiper-Jordan in a defensive substitution in left field. Wilber Perezmatched Recker’s stats on the night, only he drove in 2 RBIs instead of1, in a fine piece of back-of-the-order hitting.
* Jeff Gray, you’d have to assume, is very much healthy right now. I’llbe the first to say that his long rehab spell was frustrating, pushingthe C’s into more than a few games with a deficit on the scoreboard,but a healthy Jeff Gray is every bit as good as a healthy MichaelMadsen, and nothing is better than a healthy Michael Madsen.
So now we wait…
Tonight, the Emeralds came out with a little small ball in the 2nd,notching the first run of the game against the under-rated pitching ofJoseph Newby (left)… but once the charity was out of the way, it was timefor the C’s to get to work.
The C’s can’t afford to drop a game right now, with only the divisionwinner going through to the playoffs, so it was little surprise whenthe Canadians bats finally woke from their slumber in the bottom of the7th.
With a single from Justin Sellers to lead-off the innings, JeffBaisley got to base after being tagged by a pitch, and as Haas Prattsac’ed them along, the C’s loaded the bases when Jose Garcia singledthrough the 3rd baseman’s glove, with the ball not moving far enoughoff base to get anyone home.
With Steve Kleen at the plate and one-out down, Kleen quickly fellbehind 0-2 in the count, giving a case of the nerves to all present.
But Kleen wasn’t rattled, watching a pitch inside, and then jumping ona fastball, dispatching it into left field to score Sellers and Baisleyto give the C’s a 2-0 lead.
From then on, it was all Stephen Bryant, pitching two scoreless inningsof relief, before Brad Kilby allowed to Emeralds on base beforestriking out the final two hitters of the night to get the save.
A game we really didn’t deserve to win, but what the hell - we’ll take it!
|September 2, 2005|
* Joe Piekarz: 6 innings pitched, 4 hits, 1 earned run, no walks and 6strikeouts - way to prove you’re worth another season in the minors,Pikey! stephen Bryant pitched 2 innings giving up no hits and strikingout 3, while Kilby was run-free in the last.
* With the bat… ugh. Other than the resurgent Steve Kleen, who went2-3 with a double and 2 RBIs, everyone else managed either 1 hit or nohits at all. And NOBODY managed to draw a walk all game long. Not one.
* Everett scored 2 runs in the top of the 9th against Salem-Kaizertonight to level scores at 3-3 and take their game to extra innings,but the Volc’s are on a tear and won 4-3 in the bottom of the 10th.
Where is Wes Long? We need you, Long Gone!
Alas, 3 or 4 runs seemed to be a challenge beyond tonight’s Vancouver Canadians,as they left TEN MEN ON BASE, squandering scoring chances by thebucketload before finally mounting a minor comeback, only for JoseCorchado to let Everett get away.
Chad Boyd opened the game for the C’s the same way he openedyesterday’s game - with a lead-off double - but the C’s leaky offenseleft him stranded - just as it did yesterday.
Ronald ‘Julia’ Prettyman responded for Everett with a solo homer toright in the bottom of the inning, which, at Everett’s homeground meansthe ball had to travel about 180 feet into a stiff breeze to clear thebases. In the bottom of the 2nd, Shull was again taken yard to theEverett charity porch, when Mike Saunders went knocked him over thatsame spot to make the score 2-0 to Everett.
But the C’s weren’t totally free of pop themselves, as Steve Kleen senta ball over the wall in left center for a (real) solo home run to bringthe score back to 2-1 Everett in the top of the 4th.
Alas, in the bottom of that inning, Jimmy Shull continued to looksurprisingly mortal, giving up a walk, a double, and an RBI-inducingground-out to see the Everett lead extend to two.
Shull was not done, however, and after he surrendered that run, he sateight straight Everett hitters. Shull righted the Vancouver shipnicely, and if the C’s offense could just figure out a way to movetheir runners around the bases, the game was ripe for the picking…
Alas, it seems a near-outfield wall is all the invitation needed forsome players at this level to swing away when they have men on base.The pinch-hit decisions didn’t help, with newly promoted rookie-ballerAndre-Piper Jordan being brought in to hit for Jose Garcia, only tostrike out miserably.
Mike Massaro is always good for a little spark, and when he singled toget on base and Zeke Parraz moved him around to 2nd, a wild pitch wasall the invitation needed for Jeff Baisley to knock Massaro home,narrowing the gap to one once more.
This was where a rally was likely to happen, if the pitching could onlykeep Everett close. Sadly, the pitching couldn’t, as Jose Corchado gaveup an insurance run in the bottom of the 8th to help the Sox back outto a 4-2 lead which they held onto right to the finish.
|September 1, 2005|
* Chad Boyd continued to impress in the lead-off spot, going 1-3 with 2walks and a double. But Stev Kleen had the offensive performance of thenight (yes, THAT Steve Kleen) with a 2-3 night that included a dinger,a run scored, an RBI, and a walk. Sadly, nobody else racked up morethan a single base hit. Only four walks were drawn all night, while tenstrikeouts were racked up. Which tells you exactly how much platepatience the C’s had tonight..
* In Eugene, 2nd place Salem-Kaizer was finally getting a contest fromthe Emeralds, who came from behind to level 2-2 in the 6th, but theVolcanoes pushed back out to a 4-2 lead that stuck. This means theCanadians and Volcanoes are TIED FOR 1ST PLACE in the NWL West. Let’shope that, with the Volcanoes playing Everett three times before facingus at home three more, their share of the 1st place spot is simply aloan.
Oh, that it could come to this…
The new additions are Andre Piper-Jordan, and Frank Martinez.
Piper-Jordan, an outfielder, has played in the AZL all season, and his stats are as follows:
.323 OBP, .378 SLG, .244 BA, 1HR, 21BB, 55K
Martinez (seen left), a shortstop, was demoted from the Canadians teamafter a half season of stats that ended up with his avg set on .174 -his slugging average a measly .196 - and since being sent down, hisform hasn’t exactly been much to write home about:
.354 OBP, .285 SLG, .205 BA, 1HR, 24BB, 39Ks
At this point in time, there have been no mentions of any additions tothe pitching staff, nor any extra manpower in the outfield beyondPiper-Jordan, despite the fact that it is currently manned by just 4players (including the new recruit).
Notes From The Nat would not be surprised if another player or twojoins the team before long, but for now, Piper-Jordan and Martinez atleast fill a few holes in the roster, even if they don’t exactlyinstill fear in the opposition.
I can’t give you names, and I can’t give you definite specifics, butacting on advance word from someone involved with the Canadians, Ibegan asking a few people within other NWL clubs if they’d heard thesame rumblings, and here’s the bottom line: The NWL, in its presentform, may only exist for another season, maybe two… maybe less.
Tonight on the mound for Vancouver, Michael Madsen (no, not the actor,the gunslinging minor league pitching prospect who leads the NWL in ERA- thanks for asking), owner of a record of 5-1, with a 1.85 ERA, 11walks and 52 strikeouts on 68.0 innings pitched, towered over Everett’shitters like a Colussus. Then he throw lots of pitches, really hard, inplaces where Everett couldn’t hit them.
This, for those not up to date on the vagaries of minor league baseball, is a very good thing.
It’seven better when, in the top of the 4th inning, Chad ‘Tum-Tum’ Boyd(left) comes up to the plate with Anthony Recker, Isaac Omura and Mike Massaroeach having singled to load the bases. Boyd, who as we all know is aGamer, promptly blasted a base-clearing Grand Slam over the wall inright field to give the Vancouver Canadians a 4-0 lead and ensure, for a change, that they’d be ahead of the opposition going into the second half of the game.
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