Monday, August 27, 2007

Season Wrap Up (Part 1 of 2)

The year is over and it is a great time to reflect on where the team has been.

Early in 2007, two off the field stories took center stage as Mike Muranthony (AKA Mike Murray) became the first PA announcer in GBL history and the first I can remember ever to be ejected by an umpire when he played a soundbite from Major League. On a close play at the plate, the soundbite, “I think we got hosed on that play” rang through the park and umpire Tyler Ramsey sent Mike out of the stadium. This action garnered national coverage…ESPN, SI, CNN, etc.

Also, the GM of the Sox, Dwight Dortch, stepped down and Asst GM Curt Jacey moved into that position. Curt’s first priority, according the press release, was to bring more of a minor league feel to the park and I think he did just that. More promotions and some cosmetic changes to Peccole really made for a better game day experience.

On the field, three issues dominated. The first was injuries. You always have turnover on independent teams but it is not usually the result of the high number of injuries the team had to endure. Here is a comparison of the opening day line-up and the final game line-up.

Hall, Victor CF
Tully, Travis DH
Sherrill, J.J. RF
Johnson, J.J. LF
Hahn, Dustin 3B
Chikazawa, Masashi CAT
Nowlin, Cody 1B
Done, Mike 2B
Devoir, Jordan SS 1
Bergman, Dusty PIT


Hall, Victor CF
Done, Mike 2B
Cole, Maurice SS
Senreiso, Juan DH
Simmons, Kane LF
Amar, Adam 1B
Kowalski, Ryan RF
Sindlinger, Chuck 3B
Mcleod, Josh CAT
Moran, Nick PIT

That made for a rough year and I am not sure the team ever got back on track after such a high rate of turnover.

The next issue was defense. The Sox committed a lot of errors this season. They finished at 124. That is second in the GBL (behind expansion St. George), though they led the league in that category for almost the entire first half. Some were typical baseball errors though many were not the kind of mental mistakes baseball players should make such as the three most common for the Sox—dropping pop-ups in the infield, catchers throwing errant pickoff throws to third that allowed runs to score, and left side of the infield players who have no chance to get the runner headed to first but make a throw anyway that ends up sailing past the first basemen. These plays led to more than a few losses for the team.

Finally, there was the horrendous play of the bullpen. I can’t even think of another word to use. If you are one of those people who sees a 5-6 run lead as enough of a safety net that you can leave the park early, then you went home and saw much different box scores than the game you left this year. Statistically, I think it really hurt starters who got no decisions after they left with a lead. James Johnson (1-5) had nine no decisions; Nick Moran (5-3) had six. Les did his best to get new pitchers in but the former Chicago Cub pitcher ended up with a staff that produced a 5.81ERA over 655 innings while the released pitchers had a 8.41 ERA over about 132 innings. Consistently putting the offense in the hole and then having the shaky defense early on led to a lot of losses.

There were some good news stories this year, especially with the rookies brought in. Kane Simmons (.326, 18 HR, 54 RBI) and Adam Amar (.354, 5 HR, 19 RBI) provided the offensive spark, Maurice Cole (.277, 6HR, 20 RBI) and Sam Walker (.259, 1 HR, 25 RBI) shored up the defense late, and Josh Evans (4-0, 5.68) performed satisfactorily out of the bullpen, staying with the team all year and leading the team in appearances with 28. In all, the final lineup had seven rookies take the field so a lot of guys got some valuable experience.

Of the veterans, Juan Senreiso (.328, 7HR, 54 RBI, 20 SB), Victor Hall (.306, 9HR, 37 RBI, 46 SB), and, despite a poor first half, Mike Done (.282, 8HR, 42 RBI, 11 SB) were a core of solid offensive players. Offense was never an issue with this team.

Starting pitching was also pretty good and that is something that gets over looked when the bullpen is consistently bad.

The Sox will finish at 33-42 and Les Lancaster will miss the playoffs as a manager for just the second time in seven years. It was a tough year but still a fun experience for everyone who made it out to the park.

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