Peguero In Limbo

January 17, 2014

Yesterday the Seattle Mariners signed free agent catcher John Buck, and they had to create room for him on the major league 40-man roster. To do that, they designated Rainiers outfielder Carlos Peguero for assignment.

Peguero is out of minor league options. He was going to have to make the opening day roster out of spring training, or else the Mariners would have been forced to designate him at the end of March. Instead, they are doing it now.

Any team can claim Peguero off waivers right now, as long as they immediately place him on their 40-man roster. I think some team out there will take a chance on the power hitter, and take a long look at him during spring training.

However, Peguero might go unclaimed. Then the Mariners can assign him to Tacoma for the 2014 season.

If Peguero ends up back in Tacoma, he will have a chance to break Tacoma’s all-time career home run record. He needs 19 homers to tie Rick Renick, who hit 72 home runs over four seasons as a member of the Tacoma Twins from 1973 to 1976.

Here is the current all-time Tacoma career home run list:

HOME RUNS
1) Rick Renick 72
2) Mike Carp 67
3) Tom Kelly 66
T4) Randy Bass 64
Danny Goodwin 64
6) Bryan LaHair 60
7) Dan Rohrmeier 58
8) Kelvin Moore 57
9) Carlos Peguero 53
T10) Jeff Clement 52
Alex Liddi 52

As for Peguero, he’s currently in baseball limbo. It could take as many as ten days before we learn his fate.

Links:

  • Here is the Seattle Times story on John Buck‘s signing.
  • Matt Eddy of Baseball America tweeted that the Mariners signed reliever Logan Kensing to a minor league contract. Kensing is a veteran who had a very good season for Colorado Springs last year – he should certainly help the Tacoma bullpen; and last year he was briefly called up by the Rockies. More on him later…
  • On Thursday the News Tribune ran a Mariners notebook that leads off with the Rich Donnelly hiring.
  • The Robinson Cano signing left Nick Franklin without a position, and he told Mariners Radio that he still hasn’t heard from anyone in the Mariners front office.
  • Mariners catching prospect Tyler Marlette was listed as one of the Top-10 Catching Prospects in the minors by MLB.com. Marlette was a part of the best-groomed team in the minors last year: the Clinton LumberKings.
  • Major League Baseball is implementing expanded instant replay this season. Jayson Stark explains how it is going to work.
  • PCL mainstay Tony DeFranceso will return as the manager in Oklahoma City.
  • The El Paso Chihuahuas are selling partial season ticket plans, but they are calling them… I don’t even want to type it… “paw-tial season ticket plans.” My goodness, this is going to be ruff. Err, rough.

Have a great weekend and enjoy the football. Yes, there will be another Cheney Stadium viewing party. Dare we promise that high winds won’t blow the power out this time? Yes, we promise.*

* please please please no wind storms. The forecast says no wind storms.


Ibanez Hits 300

September 23, 2013

Raul Ibanez connected for his 300th career home run on Saturday night, going deep off Ernesto Frieri of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Only 135 other players in baseball history have hit 300 homers in the big leagues.

Ibanez became the eighth former Tacoma player to reach 300 home runs in the major leagues. Or the seventh player, depending upon if you want to count Griffey, who did not come up through Tacoma but did play in one Rainiers game on a rehabilitation assignment in 1995.

Here is the All-Time Major League Home Run list for former Tacoma players, through Sunday’s games:

  1. Alex Rodriguez – 654
  2. Ken Griffey Jr. – 630
  3. Mark McGwire – 583
  4. Willie McCovey – 521
  5. Jose Canseco – 462
  6. Jason Giambi – 437
  7. Jay Buhner – 310
  8. Raul Ibanez – 300
  9. Tony Batista – 221
  10. Mike Sweeney – 215

I can never decide how to include rehabbers on lists like this. Griffey played in one game – it feels like cheating to me when we count him as an ex-Rainiers player. But Buhner also only rehabbed here, yet he was with the team for almost an entire month in 2001, and people all around town remember him as a Rainiers player that season. So, I included both of them.

I wonder if Tacoma can claim more 500 Home Run Club members than any other minor league team? Seems like a strong possibility.

Links:

  • The Mariners closed out their final road trip of the season with a 3-2 win at Anaheim yesterday. The season-ending six-game homestand starts tonight.
  • A swarm of bees delayed the game in Anaheim yesterday. This was clearly an attempt by the Triple-A Salt Lake Bees to overpower their parent club, but alas, the coup failed.
  • In case you missed it, the Sunday feature story in The News Tribune remembered President Kennedy‘s speech at Cheney Stadium 50 years ago. The article has some great photos – check out the secret service sniper on the roof of the stadium in the background of the Kennedy-at-the-podium shot.
  • Howard Lincoln stated the Nintendo of America has no plans to sell its majority share of the Seattle Mariners.
  • As you can see from this photo, everybody – and I mean everybody – got involved in the Oakland A’s clinching party.
  • Jonah Keri’s weekly MLB column for Grantland got around to the Mariners today.
  • Former Iowa Cubs manager Ryne Sandberg was named “permanent” manager of the Philadelphia Phillies yesterday. He worked hard to get this job, managing six years in the minors – which is not a common thing for a Hall Of Famer.
  • Cost overruns are becoming an issue with the construction of the new downtown ballpark in El Paso.

This week, I’m looking forward to the Mariners games against Kansas City. The M’s have a chance to play spoiler and knock the Royals out of the wild card race.


Blowout City In Colorado Springs

May 30, 2013

Well, that was something.

Tacoma beat Colorado Springs in a record-setting performance on Wednesday night, 25-6. It was the third straight win for the Rainiers, who now lead the division by 1.5 games over the Sky Sox.

The box score is crazy-time. After the game, manager John Stearns hung it on the wall by his locker, and hitting coach Howard Johnson (@20HoJo) tweeted a picture of it. You can check it out online right here.

There are a lot of great little tidbits on the game. Let’s dive in, bullet-point style.

  • The 25 runs is the most since Tacoma became the Rainiers and affiliated with the Mariners in 1995. It might very well be a Tacoma franchise record – we do not have individual game records going back before then. The previous high was when Tacoma scored 24 runs in a game at Tucson on June 6, 2011.
  • The 30 hits is also a Rainiers-era franchise record. The highest recent hit total was a 25-hit game in Sacramento on June 28, 2004.
  • It was the second-biggest outburst by a Sky Sox opponent ever at Security Service Field (built in 1988). Salt Lake had 28 runs and 33 hits on July 29, 1994. It was also the second-biggest blowout loss in Sky Sox history (they lost that same game to Salt Lake by 25).
  • By going 30-for-58 at the plate, Tacoma raised its team batting average eight points in one day, from .265 to .273. They climbed from 12th to 9th in the league in batting average in one day.
  • Every single Tacoma player in the starting lineup had at least two hits and scored at least one run.
  • Tacoma scored in each of the first six innings, batting around three times (in the first, fifth, and sixth).
  • By the middle of the sixth inning, Tacoma was ahead 25-1.
  • Abraham Almonte went 6-for-6 at the plate, becoming the first Tacoma player to get six hits in a game since Jerry Owens on August 25, 2009 at Fresno. Prior to Owens, Pat Borders had a six-hit game in Colorado Springs on May 8, 2003.
  • All six of Almonte’s hits were singles. That’s one short of the PCL record for most singles in a game, set by Everett McCann of Portland in 1924.
  • Almonte is now batting .515. He’s had only 33 at-bats, with 17 hits, but still… he’s hitting .515. You just don’t see that number very often. He’s hit safely in all nine games in which he has batted for Tacoma.
  • Eric Thames and Brad Miller each had six RBIs. According to Sky Sox historian Chris Moyer, it was only the second time that two players ever had six or more RBI in one game against the Sky Sox. The other time it happened was when Nashville’s Prince Fielder and Corey Hart did it on August 6, 2005.
  • Thames has 10 RBI over his last three games.
  • Miller hit blackjack with his first Triple-A home run, a three-run shot to center field that made it 21-1 in the sixth inning. Miller had his first two Triple-A extra-base hits in the game.
  • Dustin Ackley had eight plate appearances in the leadoff spot. He had four singles, a homer, and two walks to reach base seven times. He scored four runs and drove in three.
  • The Franklin Gutierrez rehabilitation assignment continues to gain steam. He hit a pair of long doubles, and has now hit safely in his last four games going 7-for-21. Look for Gutierrez to play center field tonight.
  • Normally we would get pretty excited about Nate Tenbrink getting four hits with two doubles and a homer, scoring four runs, and driving in four more. But today? Meh.
  • Sky Sox starting pitcher Chris Volstad has been a major league rotation member for the last five years, and he opened this season in the majors with the Rockies. He allowed 11 runs in 2.1 innings.
  • Colorado Springs backup catcher Dallas Tarleton pitched a scoreless top of the ninth inning. This came after the Rainiers scored 25 runs against real pitchers.
  • The Rainiers 25 runs last night is more runs than the parent Seattle Mariners have scored in their last eight games combined (24).
  • Overlooked in all of the offense, Tacoma starter Andrew Carraway delivered another Quality Start – his seventh in his last eight outings. He’s 6-1 with a 2.98 ERA and nobody ever talks about him…

I got a request to post a picture of my scorecard from last night’s game. This is just the Tacoma side; click on the picture to enlarge it.

Note the excessive white-out on top of the inning columns due to batting around three times.

Note the excessive white-out on top of the inning columns due to batting around three times.

There are still two games left on this road trip before the Rainiers return home on Saturday. The question of how the teams will respond tonight is an interesting one.

Both teams are having “bullpen days” today because of scratched starting pitchers. James Paxton is battling a minor knee problem and will not pitch for Tacoma, and Sky Sox scheduled starter Roman Colon has landed on the disabled list.

Tonight’s game is at 6:05 (Pacific) and you can hear it on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Jonathan Arias (0-0, 9.45) against Sky Sox RHP Corey Riordan (3-1, 5.60).

Links:

  • I wrote the Rainiers game story for The News Tribune, which includes some fun quotes from manager John Stearns.
  • The MiLB.com story on the game has quotes from Brad Miller and Abraham Almonte. One correction to the story: the previous high for runs scored in a game was 24, two years ago in Tucson – here’s my blog post on that game (note that Dustin Ackley factored heavily in that game, as well).
  • Yesterday the Mariners called up Alex Liddi to Seattle, and optioned pitcher Brandon Maurer to Tacoma. Ryan Divish has a report on the roster move and speculation about the Mariners starting rotation.
  • Jason Churchill has a scouting-centric post on Maurer and Jeremy Bonderman.
  • The Mariners lost a heart-breaker in San Diego, 3-2.
  • Former Mariners farm director Pedro Grifol has resurfaced as a major league coach with the Royals.
  • Elsewhere in the PCL, we had a bunch of normal scores. Were these guys even trying to score?
  • Sacramento beat Salt Lake, 7-2. Seven runs – is that all you got, Sacramento?
  • Seven runs was enough in Vegas yesterday, too – by far, as the 51s beat Reno, 7-1.
  • The Tucson paper has a story on the Padres playing “Murphy Ball” and bunting a lot – so they went out and beat Fresno with a walk-off home run by Jonathan Galvez.
  • Nashville topped Iowa, 4-3, as Caleb Gindl and Josh Prince each drove in a pair of runs.

How many runs will score tonight? The other day Sacramento won in Tucson, 20-5, and then got shut out the next day 2-0. Baseball!


Rainiers Move In To First; Sweeney Moves Up

May 29, 2013

The Rainiers won the opening game of the Colorado Springs series on Tuesday night, 5-4.

It was the first of 16 games between the two teams this season, and if it served as a preview of how the season series is going to go, we are in for a lot of exciting games.

Tacoma moved into first place with the win, a half-game ahead of the Sky Sox.

The key yesterday was the relief pitching of Brian Moran and Logan Bawcom, and I wrote about them in the game story (link down below).

Here I want to talk about Brian Sweeney, who earned the win despite not having a real good outing (by his standards). Sweeney allowed three runs over 2.2 innings, but Tacoma took the lead while he was on the hill.

Sweeney improved his season won-loss record to 6-1. The victory was the 34th of his career in a Tacoma uniform, and he is now tied for sixth on the all-time Tacoma win list. Here’s how it looks:

  1. Ron Herbel (1961-1963, 1972) – 43
  2. Mark Wiley (1972-1976) – 40
  3. Steve Luebber (1972-1973, 1975, 1977) – 39
  4. Eddie Bane (1974-1977) – 38
  5. Gerry Thomas (1962-1964) – 36
  6. Mike Pazik (1974-1976), Brian Sweeney (1999-2000, 2002-2003, 2010, 2012-2013) – 34

He needs nine wins to tie Herbel. Seems unlikely for 2013, but you never know!

Tonight’s game is at 6:05, and you can hear it on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Andrew Carraway (5-1, 2.98) against Colorado Springs RHP Chris Volstad (2-0, 4.02).

Links:

  • We start with the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune. The story focused on Tacoma’s pitching yesterday.
  • Mike Zunino spoke to the Colorado Springs paper about the Rainiers pitching approach.
  • The Mariners lost to the Padres, 6-1. They have some injury issues.
  • The Seattle Times has more reaction from Nick Franklin on his call-up.
  • Jackson Generals broadcaster Chris Harris did a fine job handling the skunk delay last night in Tennessee. Video.
  • Speaking of Jackson, Erasmo Ramirez tossed five innings yesterday in his first appearance of the year. He’ll be in Tacoma soon, I think.
  • In the PCL, Reno’s Kila Ka’aihue hit his league-leading 15th home run and the Aces won in Las Vegas, 6-5.
  • Sacramento is heating up – the River Cats topped Salt Lake last night, 9-4.
  • Tucson took down Fresno, 5-1. The story focuses on reliever Colt Hynes.
  • Nashville interim manager Charlie Green is fitting in nicely, but the Sounds still aren’t winning.
  • Aaron Cunningham homered twice in Round Rock’s 3-2 win at New Orleans.
  • My main man from last year – Wil Myershomered twice last night in the International League.

Great start to the series here in the Springs, let’s see if it can continue tonight.


Hall Of 100 – Tacoma Style

December 13, 2012

ESPN has stirred up a debate by releasing a “Hall Of 100″ ranking the top 100 players in baseball history.

This type of project is something that can be argued about forever, with no solution in sight. It’s extremely difficult to compare players across eras in a sport that has been played at a professional level since the late 1800s.

I’m not even going to attempt to critique their list – you can check it out for yourself, the whole presentation is right here.

However, I am willing to look at the Tacoma connections on their list:

Played for Tacoma: Mark McGwire (ranked #83) played for the Tacoma Tigers in 1986. Juan Marichal (70) was a member of the original Tacoma Giants in 1960. Gaylord Perry (66) pitched for the Tacoma Giants from 1960 to 1963. Willie McCovey (57) played for Tacoma in 1960. Ken Griffey Jr (34) played in that one rehab game in 1995. Alex Rodriguez (18) was with the Rainiers in 1995 and 1996. Walter Johnson (12) infamously pitched in one exhibition game for the 1906 Tacoma Tigers before manager Mike Lynch told him he would never make it as a pitcher.

Definitely played at Tacoma as a visitor: we saw Manny Ramirez (85) roll into town with Sacramento just last season. Mike Piazza (78) came through town as an Albuquerque Duke in 1992. Tony Gwynn (61) was a visitor with the Hawaii Islanders in 1982, and possibly Las Vegas in 1983. Pedro Martinez (41) came into town with Albuquerque in 1992. Mike Schmidt (16) played in numerous games at Cheney while with Eugene in 1972. Willie Mays (2) made several appearances at Tacoma in Tacoma Giants vs. SF Giants exhibition games in the 1960s.

May have played at Tacoma as a visitor: Jim Thome (94) played portions of two seasons with Colorado Springs, in 1991 and 1992 for a total of 53 games. It’s possible he came through Cheney Stadium back then. Craig Biggio (90) played a half-season with Tucson in 1988 and seems likely to have played at Cheney. Roberto Alomar (73) played in a whopping nine games for Las Vegas in 1988 – the chance that any of those were in Tacoma is slim. Ferguson Jenkins (62) pitched parts of two seasons with Arkansas in 1964-1965. Arkansas, believe it or not, was a PCL team during those seasons and Tacoma played 14 games against the them, so it is likely that Jenkins played at Cheney. Rickey Henderson (14) played a half-season with then-PCL entry Ogden in 1979; he may have played in Tacoma – if any readers know for sure on Rickey, please contact me.

Tacoma-related: Bob Feller (59) did several appearances/autograph signings at Cheney Stadium in his post-playing days. Babe Ruth (1) played exhibition games in Tacoma and Seattle in the early 1920s.

I will leave you with one complaint about ESPN’s list: no Ichiro? Not even in the “honorable mentions?”

Links:

  • Josh Hamilton signed a five-year contract with the Angels. This really limits the Mariners chances of acquiring an impact hitter – they might have to go the trade route at this point, as Nick Swisher seems to be the last quality free agent hitter on the market.
  • On The News Tribune’s Mariners blog there is a wrap-up with audio of Jack Z and Eric Wedge visiting the Hot Stove League radio show.
  • Ex-Rainiers third baseman Jack Hannahan signed a two-year major league contract with the Cincinnati Reds.
  • Another former Rainiers player, Shin-Soo Choo, was part of a somewhat controversial three-team trade. Choo is also now on the Reds, and there are reports that Cincinnati is going to try him in center field.
  • In the PCL, the Iowa Cubs have a new manager and it is Marty Pevey.

The Alou Siblings

September 26, 2012

According to the mysterious people who run the @RainiersLand twitter account, today is “National Sibling Day.” This caused them to publish on twitter a great shot of Clay Huntington interviewing all three Alou brothers at Cheney Stadium.

I don’t know what the heck “National Sibling Day” is, but if it spurred the Rainiers to dig out this gem from the photo archives, well, I’m all for it.

It’s an awesome photo, I thought it would be fun to CSI it a little bit.

First off, here is the picture:

Click photo to enlarge

That’s definitely Cheney Stadium – the right field light tower, shipped to Tacoma after they tore down Seals Stadium in San Francisco, has been in place at Cheney since 1960. It even survived the remodel.

You can see the then-undeveloped Foss tennis courts hill in the background.

On the left, we have Felipe and Matty Alou in their San Francisco Giants uniforms. On the right, Jesus Alou is in his Tacoma Giants uniform. In the middle, we have Mr. Huntington in a snappy sports coat adorned with a Tacoma Giants lapel badge.

Felipe Alou – who would become a great manager – never played in a game as a member of the Tacoma Giants. But the San Francisco Giants used to play an annual exhibition game at Cheney Stadium against the Tacoma affiliate, and this picture is clearly from one of those exhibitions.

(These exhibitions are the reason why some older fans remember seeing Willie Mays play in Tacoma. Mays played in several of these exhibitions between 1960 and 1965).

Matty Alou was one of the stars of the inaugural 1960 Tacoma Giants, hitting .306 while playing in 150 games. Matty cracked the San Francisco opening day roster in 1961 as a reserve outfielder – but he couldn’t break into the starting outfield of Mays, Willie McCovey, and his brother Felipe.

Matty was a back-up outfielder in 1961 and 1962, and in 1963 his playing time really deteriorated so he was sent back to Tacoma for a month to get some at-bats. Eventually he was traded to Pittsburgh where he became a starter and won a batting title.

The appearance of Jesus Alou in a Tacoma uniform makes this CSI an easy project: Jesus only played for Tacoma for one season, in 1963.

Jesus had one of the best full-seasons in Tacoma’s long franchise history, batting .324 over 648 at-bats in 1963 – a batting average that still ranks as Tacoma’s 11th-highest single-season mark. He played in 158 games, a Tacoma single-season record that may last forever, since the PCL only plays 144 now.

It appears this photo was taken prior to a San Francisco Giants vs. Tacoma Giants exhibition game in 1963. It must have occurred during a portion of the season when Matty was up with the big club.

Jesus got called up in September of 1963 and three times that September the San Francisco Giants fielded an all-Alou outfield – although, as the New York Times mythbusted, they never did all start the same game.

Links:

  • Larry LaRue has a story in The News Tribune about how the Mariners are better than they were last year. I agree with the sentiment: the team is improved from one year ago, even if it doesn’t really show in the won-loss record. They are much more fun to watch.
  • In the Times, Geoff Baker has an excellent article on the remarkable turnaround of Mariners reliever Oliver Perez. Perez signed as a minor league free agent and opened the season in Tacoma.
  • Justin Smoak hit a pair of home runs last night in the Mariners 5-4 loss at Anaheim. Smoak is on yet another September tear… hey, I think I figured out what to do with him! Here’s the plan: we keep him in Tacoma all season, while the Mariners contend for a wild card in the majors, and then when the roster expands they make the call – and here comes September Smoak, ready to blast the Mariners into the post-season! Who’s with me?
  • So you want to operate a Class-A team in the middle of nowhere? The Mariners High Desert affiliate is hiring a general manager.
  • The Wall Street Journal has a study entitled “How Biased Is You Baseball Announcer?”
  • Something good has come from the NFL referees lockout: it reminded Larry Stone to write about the 1979 umpire’s strike. Great stuff here.
  • Congrats to former Rainiers outfielder Michael Saunders, as he and his wife Jessica had a baby.
  • Prospect analyst John Sickels tried to make something of Danny Hultzen‘s season. His conclusion: don’t panic.
  • Yet another step towards El Paso: the ownership group signed an agreement to purchase the Tucson Padres.

Some excellent pennant races going into the final week of the season. Maybe the Mariners can be a factor and help bury the Angels?


Brownie On Top

May 29, 2012

Erasmo Ramirez tossed a gem, carrying a shutout into the eighth inning and pitching Tacoma to a 4-1 victory over Tucson on Monday afternoon.

The victory gave Tacoma a series win over the Padres, three games to one. Tacoma has won five of the last six games, and the team has gone 12-5 over the last 17 games.

With the win, Rainiers manager Daren Brown moved past Dan Rohn to the top of the Tacoma all-time manager wins list.

Here are the leaders, the years they managed, and their records.

  1. Daren Brown,  2007-current. 376-366
  2. Dan Rohn, 2001-2005. 375-340
  3. Dave Myers, 1996-2000. 366-343
  4. Whitey Lockman, 1967-1970. 269-316
  5. Red Davis, 1960-1962. 259-203

Obviously, longevity is a big part of racking up the wins. Lockman held the title of most wins for nearly 30 years, and he had a losing record! But he managed the Tacoma Cubs for four years, and he won a PCL title with his 1969 team (his other three teams were bad).

Brown is in his sixth season, which is a record in itself. However, he missed a third of the 2010 season when he was promoted to Seattle as Mariners interim manager (Jose Castro got credit for Tacoma wins while Brown was in the majors). Brown’s teams have been to the playoffs twice and won one PCL title (although Brown was in the majors when it happened).

His best season in terms of wins and losses was 2008, when the team went 80-64. Eighty wins in the PCL is almost always playoff worthy – but that was the year Salt Lake started the season 22-1 and held first place from wire to wire. Brown is still amazed by that season – Tacoma opened the season a respectable 13-10 and was eight games out of first place!

The most dramatic was the 2009 season, when Brown’s comeback kids overcame a 7.5-game deficit over the final 17 days of the season and won th division title on the last game of the year. That was a miraculous finish.

We’ll see how 2012 plays out. Brown’s club is 3.5 games behind first place Reno, and there are still 93 games to play.

Tacoma plays at Reno this week, with a four-game series starting with a game on Tuesday night at 7:05. Tacoma starts RHP Andrew Carraway (2-0, 2.21) against Reno RHP Joe Martinez (2-3, 5.87). The broadcast is on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here.

Tacoma has always struggled at Aces Ballpark, and the Rainiers have already been swept there this season. But Tacoma has a much stronger lineup this time around, and I think we’ll see some better results.

Reno just split a four-gamer at Sacramento. Tacoma will not face Reno Aces top prospect Trevor Bauer, who pitched on Monday.

It should be a fun series!

Links:

  • We’ll lead off with Ryan Divish’s Rainiers game story from The News Tribune, focusing on Daren Brown‘s accomplishment.
  • The Mariners lost in Texas, and that’s five in a row. This team is streaky!
  • Ho-hum, he did it again. Danny Hultzen tossed six scoreless innings for Double-A Jackson, lowering his ERA to a Southern League leading 1.59. He’s allowed two runs on 15 hits in his last 26 innings pitched. I wonder if this is boring for him?
  • The greatest hitter anyone has ever seen came out to the ballpark in San Francisco and had some interesting things to say. I wonder if this was a step to try to heal his reputation? He certainly sounds a little older and wiser.
  • In the PCL, Reno’s Trevor Bauer was once again both wild and unhittable, pitching the Aces to a 10-2 win at Sacramento.
  • Baseball America says the Rainiers are going to have to look out for Reno third baseman Ryan Wheeler this week.
  • As expected, Manny Ramirez will not be activated by Oakland on Wednesday. Will he still be with Sacramento on Saturday when they come to Tacoma? Who knows?
  • New Salt Lake hitting coach Francisco Matos has a problem: the Bees aren’t hitting. Salt Lake lost to Las Vegas and has dropped five in a row.
  • Fresno outscored Colorado Springs 10-8, and the Grizzlies are now 19 games over .500 and have the PCL’s best record.
  • I’m developing a mancrush on Omaha’s Wil Myers, who went 3-for-4 with two doubles and two RBI in a 6-3 win at New Orleans.
  • Matt Kemp wrapped up his two-day rehabilitation assignment with Albuquerque in style: three hits, and a homer. He went 5-for-7 with two homers in two games.
  • Round Rock put three on the board in the tenth inning and defeated Nashville, 8-5.

Off to the airport – gotta fly to Reno!


Piece Of History

February 10, 2012

Instead of looking to the future, let’s take a step back into the past.

I was at a Tacoma Athletic Commission meeting yesterday (Scott Hatteberg was the speaker; he was terrific), and a member named Rich Berndt brought something really cool: an autographed 1961 Tacoma Giants team baseball.

The ’61 Giants are still the greatest team in Tacoma history, and one of the greatest minor league teams of the 20th century. They went 97-57 and were PCL champions.

Rich let me take some pictures of his baseball.

The ball is in great condition – the ink is very bold. Rich told me he stores it away from sunlight, which seems like a good idea for any signed baseball. I have a Harry Caray “Holy Cow” ball that I wish I hadn’t let sit near sunlight.

Manager Red Davis

Red was the first Tacoma manager, piloting the 1960-1962 Giants. He passed away in 2002.

Here’s a nice panel:

 

What, no vaseline smudge next to Gaylord's name?

 

That’s Dusty Rhodes, Frank Reveira, Gaylord Perry, and Tom Haller. Three of the four had very long MLB careers.

And another side:

There were about 20 signatures on it.

Rafael Alomar, Tacoma Hall of Famer Gil Garrido, Ray Daviault, Verle Tiefenthaler, Bill Hain.

There were more signatures on it, but at this point Rich caught me trying to sneak the baseball into my coat pocket, and I was booted out of the TAC meeting by Stan Naccarato, Bob Robertson, and Bill Baarsma. C’mon, guys, I just wanted to display it in my booth!

Seriously, though, it’s an awesome piece of Tacoma baseball history.

Speaking of decorating the booth, big-time shout-out to blog reader Big Mike, who located the below photo of Daren Brown getting ejected for me. Two down, two to go: I have Brown and Rohn getting tossed; I need Dave Brundage and Dave Myers. I have a lead on a Brundage, but Myers is going to be tough – he rarely got ejected.

The hat has been tossed.

Links:

  • It’s time for spring training: Larry LaRue of The News Tribune flew to Arizona today.
  • John McGrath wrote a column on Mariners general manager Jack Z, and McGrath states that it is time to see some “signs of tangible progress.”
  • Keith Law posted his Top 100 Prospects list, with write-ups, on ESPN – if you’re an “Insider” you can access the list here. Not an Insider or only care about the Mariners? Larry Stone has the Mariners info for you.
  • As an aside to that previous link, ESPN displays #11 prospect Dylan Bundy’s high school stats, since that’s all he has: 11-0, 0.20 ERA, 158 strikeouts and five walks. How would you like to be a high school kid facing that guy?
  • The New York Times did a feature on Dirk Hayhurst, the former PCL pitcher who is about to release his sure-to-be-entertaining second book.
  • The humidor is coming to Colorado Springs. Let the celebration begin!
  • Minor League Baseball is going back to Canada, with Ottawa attracting an Eastern League franchise rumored to be the Binghampton Mets. It sure would be nice if the PCL brought back a nice, thriving coastal Canadian city.
  • College baseball starts shortly. Here is the Pac-12 Preview from Baseball America.

Check back Monday – we should have our first real, live spring training reports!


Street Name

January 11, 2012

Today we get word that the Tacoma Landmarks Preservation Committee is moving forward with plans to try to get the street that leads into Cheney Stadium to be named after recently departed civic leader and baseball man Clay Huntington.

I am in favor of this, and I hope it happens. As we discussed when he passed away, Clay was one of the men responsible for the building of Cheney Stadium, and bringing Triple-A baseball to Tacoma. He supported youth and professional athletics in the Tacoma area his entire lifetime.

Fellow broadcaster Bob Robertson tipped me off that he was part of a citizen’s group trying to get the idea off the ground, and now we have confirmation in John McGrath’s column.

The street – currently named South Cheyenne Street – is the one that winds around the outfield wall, past the Foss High School parking lots, and intersects at S. 19th St.

It would be a fitting honor for Clay.

Links:

  • The Mariners signed veteran relief pitcher Aaron Heilman to a minor league contract. Heilman will go to spring training and fight for a big league bullpen job. He was a solid major league reliever for several years, but he struggled in 2011. At age 33, can he bounce back? We’ll find out soon enough.
  • In his post on Heilman, Jeff Sullivan of Lookout Landing has a list of the Mariners bullpen candidates. Many of the “Legitimate Competitors” will make up the pitching staff of your 2012 Tacoma Rainiers.
  • Larry LaRue writes that Ken Griffey Jr. is being a dad.
  • Next year’s Hall of Fame ballot is going to be a never-ending story, as many known or suspected PED users will be on it. With Barry Bonds at the head of the class, the heart of this story is going to be in San Francisco – where lead baseball columnist John Shea is already conflicted about his ballot.

Still waiting for this Prince Fielder saga to play out. Is anyone else getting impatient?


On Player Names

January 5, 2012

Yesterday afternoon I updated the Tacoma all-time roster, filling in all of the names of players who appeared in at least one game in 2011. It’s on the Rainiers website – you can see the complete alphabetical list of every player to appear in a game for Tacoma, since 1960, right here.

The first name to go in was David Aardsma, who is now the very first player on our list.

This is no surprise. When Aardsma reached the major leagues in 2004, he jumped ahead of Henry Aaron as the first player listed in the all-time alphabetical list of Major League Baseball players.

Why would anybody know this?

Well, let’s go back in time a little bit… to a long-ago era, a dark age of few computers and no cell phones and no internet. Yes, I said no internet – I know, I’m old.

Back then to get your baseball stats you needed get The Book. That would be the Macmillan Baseball Encyclopedia. It was a huge, huge book – you could go on a workout plan doing curls with it.

I rummaged up my old copy and took a photo for you. That’s a standard-size coffee mug in the foreground.

Try lugging one of these around the PCL in your carry-on bag!

The encyclopedia lists every player in MLB history, and all of their career statistics, in alphabetical order. It was a bit of a story when Aardsma ousted Aaron from the leadoff spot – if I recall correctly, the esteemed John McGrath even wrote a column about it.

So now, on our Tacoma roster, we lead off with the same player that MLB does.

There is one thing we have on the Tacoma all-time roster that MLB does not have: a player whose last name begins with the letter “x.”

Joe Xavier played for the Tacoma Tigers in 1988, and he had a pretty solid season and appeared to be on the verge of a call-up to Oakland.

In all of the 100+ years of Major League Baseball, there has never been a player with a last name starting with the letter “x.” Xavier was poised to be the first.

This was actually somewhat newsy at the time – Baseball America ran a bi-weekly “Joe Xavier Watch” updating his progress, and Sports Illustrated even made a note of him.

Alas, it did not happen. Joe never got the call, and Major League Baseball remains X-free.

Here’s some more on Joe Xavier, from a blog with a very unique idea.

When I got to Chaz Roe on the roster, I wondered if he had the shortest name in Tacoma baseball history. I had to check it out.

Sorry, Chaz. Tacoma has a five-way tie for shortest name, between Bo Diaz (1979), Joe Law (1987-1990), Ron Law (1972), Don Lee (1967), and Al Rico (1972).

I eliminated initial-names from the competition. My apologies to T.J. Bohn, J.J. Putz, and A.J. Zapp – you guys don’t count.

Too bad we never had Ed Ott or Ed Hug, who have the shortest names in MLB history.

The longest name on the Tacoma all-time roster belongs to Tommy Johannesen-Ellis, checking in at 20 letters.

Tommy pitched in one game for Tacoma, in 2007. I believe he is out of baseball now.

If he had reached the majors, Tommy Johannesen-Ellis would have tied such mouthfuls as William Van Landingham and Jarrod Saltalamacchia for longest name (first + last) in MLB history.

Links:

  • At The News Tribune, Larry LaRue recaps a media session Ichiro had in Japan.
  • The well-connected Jon Heyman ranks the Prince Fielder suitors. The Mariners are #2.
  • Former Cheney Stadium groundskeeper Bob Christofferson (a strong 17 letters) helped select the initial members of the MLB Groundskeeper Hall of Fame.

We really need Prince to sign soon. See what we were reduced to today? If he doesn’t sign tomorrow I might have to write about something even nerdier, like radio equipment.


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