Sunday, June 29, 2008

Series Report: Reno @ Edmonton (June 27-29, 2008)

Well, let start by saying that I could not find the internet broadcast for the game so I didn't listen to any of them. And, game summaries posted on the GLB mainpage are pretty non-descriptive for this series. As a result, my commentary will be pretty generic since I don't know any of the finer details of the games.

There is one great thing I did notice from the box scores--The first two games of the series had the Cracker Cats held to single digit runs. That may not seem like a big deal but for a team that has the highest ERA in the league (9.15) and is only percentage points out of last place, it is a big deal. The lines scores show the Sox pitching staff is settling down even if it may not hold. Good outings by Chris Fields, Kevin Frederick, and Mario Guilen were nice to see. Fields had major control issues in his first outing so I was happy to see him rebound well. And Frederick has pitched poorly this season and we need him to step up and lead the bullpen. Though one good outing doesn't cure his issues (8.74 ERA in 22.2 innings where he has allowed batters to log 38 hits and a .373 average), it is a start in the right direction for the former Toronto Blue Jay.

Unfortunately, the Sox went back to their old ways losing 12-4 in the Sunday Matinee. But there is still a god news story on the pitching--Jesse Hall gave up just three earned runs across 6.1 innings in a quality start before Giorgio Fuda gave up the rest. And, D.J. Dixon hit a home run to join John Hattig and Juan Senreiso as a team leader with 6 dingers.

The Sox now head home for a 4-game set with the Chico Outlaws.

The reality is, that with 14 games to go in the first half and the Sox 9.5 games out of first place, the team needs to focus on the second half to have a shot at post season play. That will be hard because the two new Canadian teams seem to be in the driver's seat to secure those if the season ended today. However, Edmonton has looked more vulnerable than Calgary so perhaps if those two beat up on each other during the second half and the Sox can win some games, it is not out of the question for the Sox to be back in the post season.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Series Report: Reno @ Calgary (June 24-26)

Well, if you read my last post, you know my opinion of the Silver Sox pitching efforts. Well, I guess it could be worse. I looked at the box scores from the last few days and Yuma has surrendered 70 runs in 3 games. You read that right--70! I thought I was reading football scores:

06/22/08 ST. GEORGE 30 @ YUMA 16
06/23/08 YUMA 19 @ ST. GEORGE 17
06/24/08 YUMA 12 @ ST. GEORGE 21

Well, it appears to be a league wide epidemic. A poster on the Our Sports Central website posted this:

Out of the 101 games played so far, as of June 23rd... 54 of those games had at least one team score 10 or more runs. Of those 101 games as well, there were at least 17 games where at least one team scored at least 15 runs or more. That's a lot of scoring.

So I guess everyone who has voted on the poll on this site for bad pitching are spot on. I am not sure why it is so bad this year. Definitely the worst year yet for pitching in the league. The Sox, unfortunately, lead that pack with a league worst 9.52 ERA. But whatever the reason, I believe it is hurting the GBL's image as a professional league. Granted, I know their metric is how many players they've sent to affiliated ball but I would argue that the average fan won't take the league seriously when you have the winning team score more than 10 runs in over half the contests. I scanned the Northern and American leagues and they are nothing like ours in terms of runs scored. The United, however, is pretty close. So I think we still have a ways to go attendance wise and quality wise (at least statistically speaking) before the GBL becomes a premier indy league. Not saying I'll stop being a fan, just putting it out there.

June 24, 2008 -- Well, the Sox pitching woes continue. Their pitching sent them to a 10-1 defeat to drop to 7-18 and lose their 5th straight game. Jesse Hall left in the 3rd (injury maybe?) giving up 4 runs on 5 hits and surrendering 4 walks with one strike out. Next in the shooting gallery was Chris Fields. First the good news--Fields pitched 3 scoreless innings in relief. Unfortunately, it came after a 6-run fourth inning marked by Fields throwing the ball away multiple times on an intentional walk, a hits batsman, and a run walked in. Scott Schneider was activated and pitched an inning of scoreless relief so that was good. However, it was too little too late as the Sox offense was held to just one run on a solo shot by Ryan Brown.

June 25, 2008 -- Well pitching put the team in a huge hole again but this time they were able to slug their way out of it against a very capable Vipers bullpen so my hat is off to the offense. Our pitching woes came from Kevin Frederick who is yet to get on track this season. Last night he gave up seven earned runs in just 4.1 innings of work. Frustration showed all night as he argued the strikezone with the umpire. By the team he was pulled, Jeff Leonard was ejected as he argued balls and strikes on his behalf. Then Frederick headed to the umpire with nothing to lose to continue the complaining. I feel his frustration since our pitching has been just plain bad. Kevin, as the sole pitcher with Major League experience probably feels the pressure moreso since he is not having a great year either--0-1 with a 9.61 ERA in 6 games. He left on two batters and Mario Guilen came in and allowed the bases to run full before surrendering a grand slam to Travis Drader. Guilen would settle down before yeilding to Reggie Leslie who gave up a run as well. The Sox would rally to take the lead and it actually held up as Eduardo Perez came in and closed the door for the win and his second save of the year.

On the offensive side, the Sox delivered a multi-faceted attack which included a home run from Juan Senreiso (6 on the year), a triple, 3 doubles, 9 singles and 4 stolen bases in front of 1007 fans in Calgary. D.J. Dixon continues to lead the team with a .398 and a .687 slugging percentage. Of course, Ryan Crespi also deserves a shout out since he has a .390 average with 22 more at bats than Dixon. He also is second on the team with 12 stolen bases (Gary Harris has 14).

June 26, 2008 -- More of the same as last night; pitching put the Sox in a hole and they slugged their way out of a loss. Russell gave up 6 runs in six innings; Schneider gave up 1 in 1; Fuda gave up 4 (1 earned) in 1.2; and DelaCruz struck out the only batter he faced to secure his third save on the season. Russell got the win.

Offensively, the Sox knocked out 23 hits and scored at least one run in every inning to batter the Cats in a 13-11 victory. Crespi and Madrid each had a homer while Steven Alexander chipped in with two.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Series Report: Calgary at Reno (June 20-21)

Before I talk about this series I should tell you about my philosophy when it comes to writing this blog. I am a fan. I am not a "fan-boy" who never sees anything wrong with our team. I am also not a "hater" who likes to point out faults whenever I get a chance. And, ultimately, I am not going to tear down the team too much because I want people to come to the park, I want the Silver Sox and GBL to thrive, and I am not going to use this medium to affect that in a negative way.

That being said, I need to vent just a bit. Actually a lot.

What the hell just happened during this series? Not only did the Sox get swept but they were made to look like they were not even in the same league as the Vipers. The Sox gave up 36 runs in those games which is bad. But they also committed 13 errors in three games including 8 in one game alone. 8 errors? I have been watching baseball for the better part of 30 years and I can say that I have never seen 8 errors in any professional game, and I haven't seen it at any level that didn't include a tee at homeplate. I googled it and found this for the MLB:


24, on June 14, 1876 Boston made 24 errors against St. Louis. Since 1893, the record is 12, by the Detroit Tigers against the Chicago White Sox on May 1, 1901 and also the Chicago White Sox against the Detroit Tigers on May 6, 1903.

Yes, I know these guys aren't major leaguers. But my greater point is there hasn't been more than 12 errors in an MLB game for over a century. And I bet if I could do a similar search at the minor league level, it would be pretty much the same. Errors are supposed to be rare and if you scan box scores at any professional level, I think we expect somewhere between zero and three. If we saw four or five we'd be concerned. How should we feel with 8?

There is no other way to say this...but other than about four guys (including Kaiser and Schnieder who are both on the shelf), the pitching staff is a train wreck. Most starters are only going a few innings per game and usually leaving after giving up 4-6 runs as well. I can count on one hand the number of times a relief pitcher has come in, pitched at least an inning and not given up a run. The team ERA is 9.45 and opponents are hitting .340 against us. .340!!! Last year we had some pitching problems but nothing close to this year.

I have nothing negative to say about the offense. They are scoring runs but we aren't winning because the pitching kills us before the offense even gets a chance. In the games we won, the offense had to score just an insane amount of runs to cover for the pitching. In those wins, the team scored 15, 11, 10, 16, 14, 13 and 13 runs. It is unrealistic to think they have to score than many to win. This Series they scored 5, 3, and 8 runs and lost them all. I think it is not a stretch to say if a baseball team scores 5 or 8 runs they should win the game more often than not. But with the Sox, we have lost every single game when the offense hasn't delivered double digit runs, en route to a 7-17 record and sole possession of not only last place in our division but last place in the entire league.

OK, end of rant.

I just had to get that out there. Mainly due to frustration but also to vocalize the frustration I think many people are feeling with this situation. I won't fault Jeffrey Leonard and staff for not trying to fix the problem. They have brought in 7 pitchers since the season began a few weeks ago and the roster now includes just four active pitchers who were on the opening day roster. But so far, none of them have been the key to solving this pitching dilemma.

I am not giving up on the team and hope you don't either. This is our team win or lose and we need to support them. Hopefully some of these new pitchers can make a difference and bring the winning ways back to the Silver Sox franchise.

I'd give a by game synopsis but I think the point has been made. The team now goes on the road to Canada. I'll be listening to the games and hoping the Sox can right this ship. Let's go Sox!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Series Report: Edmonton @ Reno (June 17-19, 2008)

June 18: The Sox evened this series at a game a piece with a 13-9 inning; and if you take out Shawn Ravenscraft's two innings of work, the score would have been 13-3.

Tonight was another vision of how good the Silver Sox can be if they get good pitching. Jesse Hall and Jeremy Flanagan gave then just that as Hall scattered three runs given up across 6 innings and Flanagan came in for a scoreless inning of relief. The former is now 2-1 with a 5.70 ERA which is not bad at all and a welcome sight with the loss of Marc Kaiser earlier this week. Fulcher still has a little way to go to drop his ERA below 10 (it is currently 10.80) but a couple more outings like this and he can erase his slow start with the team. As for Ravenscraft...well, I like to talk about the play on the field and not get personal but sometimes those things mix every now and then. Shawn Ravenscraft has just not been effective this year and I think he is about to go the way of Mike Reeves if he doesn't step up his game, unfortunately. Reeves, as you'll recall, was a former starter who ended up going 0-2 with a 19.29 ERA in five games. Ravenscraft, also a former starter, is currently 0-0 with a 12.60 ERA in 5 games. He has 9 walks to 8 strike outs and has allowed 30 hits in 15 innings of work. The Sox entered the 9th with a 13-3 lead. After Ravenscraft's outing, they won 13-9. A little too close if you ask me.

The offense continues to amaze with home runs from Steven Alexander, Gary Harris, and D.J. Dixon. Dixon had the most amazing line of the night going 4 for 4 with 2 runs and 7 RBIs. Not sure the last time I saw someone with 7 RBIs at any level of baseball above little league so it is quite an accomplishment. Carlos Madrid and Ryan Crespi also had two hits a piece. Madrid chipped in with his third swipe on the a season as well.

So overall, a good game and a timely win for the Sox. Jeffrey Leonard seems to be losing confidence in his bullpen as he pulls guys quicker and made a lot of pitching transactions over the weekend. Here is one Sox fan hoping it all pays off!

June 17: This will be the week when the two newest GBL teams come to town. Unfortunately for the Sox, the story would remain the same, however, as the bullpen sunk any chances they had of winning the first of a three game set with the Edmonton Cracker cats.

First, some injury news. Carlos Madrid made his return to the actve roster for the first time since being sidelined with a hamstring injury at the end of May. And he didn't miss a beat going 1 for 3 with two batted in.

Marc Kaiser, however, will replace him on the inactive list as he is out indefinitely with some elbow trouble. Not a good sign for one of the few bright spots on our pitching roster. The other, Steve Russell, may also have been injured as he left the game after going just three innings in his fifth start of the year. Hopefully he is OK.

As for the game, well, you have heard this before...Sox are down 4-3 through four, bullpen implodes, and Sox lose 16-5. Edmonton is now 8-9 on the season while Reno falls to 6-13.

Mario Guilen looked to be off to a good start as he had a scoreless 4th inning of work but then gave up three in the 5th before settling down for a scoreless 6th.

At that point, the team brought in a pitcher named "Alvarez". I'd give you his first name but it isn't listed on the box score or on the team roster. And it is probably good for his self esteem to have it that way because this young man's first Sox outing netted 7 runs on 9 hits (3 of those homeruns) in just one inning of work.

Brian Fulcher came in and gave up his requisite two runs in one inning of work and then, seeing nothing to lose, Jeffrey Leonard brought in Steven Alexander to pitch the ninth. He actually pitched a scoreless inning. At the risk of badmouthing my favorite team, it is more than a little discouraging when the best pitchers in your bullpen are a bench coach (Reggie Leslie) and your first baseman (Steven Alexander).

The offense, for its part, still continues to improve. John Hattig pushed his average over the .300 mark with a 2-4 performance last night and Ryan Crespi continued his hot streak with a 3-4 outing that increased his average to .405. In fact, of the nine starters, seven are batting over .300 with an eighth (Juan Senrieso) right behind them hitting .280. Team slugging is at .485 which is pretty good and on-base percentage is also good at .389.

Defense is also doing better as the team averages under two a game which is tied for 5th in the GBL. Though that may not sound like a good place to be in a league of 8 teams, those errors have only resulted in 12 unearned runs in 19 games so we could live with that if our pitching was better.

So really, the Sox are doing very well in two categories...however, as the old saying go, pitching wins championships. And the Sox, far from contending for a first half title, are finding that pitching wins individual games. The Sox will be mid-way through the first half when they wake up on Saturday and when they do so, they will be under .500--the question is, how far under .500?

The Sox will send Jesse Hall to the mound for game two. I hope you can make it out to support your home team, Reno.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Exclusive Interview with Silver Sox Announcer Ben Deach

Big thanks to Ben for taking the time to do this interview:

1. Please tell me about your educational background and how it led you to the sports broadcast industry.
I graduated from the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada in spring of 2007. While I will always value my education, it was working my way up in the radio business that got me to where I am. I began working at Lotus Radio in Reno in 2006 doing behind the scenes work, and 2 months later I started filling in on ESPN Radio 630's local show. From there I was named play-by-play broadcaster for the Nevada Wolf Pack Women's basketball team which helped me to get the Silver Sox Broadcasting Job last year.

2. What has been your favorite experience related to sports broadcasting?

Last July in Chico the Silver Sox were down by a run in the ninth inning against Todd Gelatka, Chico's closer who at that point was the league's best. The Sox hadn't come close to scoring on him all year, but this time, things felt - and were -very different. Reno mounted an improbable rally when Kane Simmons came up with a clutch hit to tie the game, and Carlos Madrid knocked in the go ahead run. Chico then tried to come back in the bottom half, but the Sox hung on to win the most memorable game of the 2007 season.

A close second would be with the Nevada basketball team when Dellena Criner hit a 60 foot shot at the buzzer at a game in Boise in early 2007. Unfortunately, the shot was ruled to have been released a split second late. It's still my favorite single call of my short broadcasting career.

3. How do you prepare for a game and how long does it take?

I put in a lot of time preparing for any broadcast. Preparation is always the key in broadcasting, and I am a big subscriber to that theory. As the season goes on, it takes less time to prepare for each game. You learn things about the players every day and that helps to conduct a quality broadcast.

4. What are your initial impressions of the 2008 Silver Sox?

Offense is their strong point. After the three game sweep of Long Beach, it was made clear that Reno is one of the most prolific offensive teams in the GBL. Bringing Juan Senreiso back was huge. He is a great team leader along with a power threat. Then there is former Blue Jays infielder John Hattig, who is a great hitter and a solid third baseman. And with guys like Ryan Crespi, DJ Dixon, and Andre Alvarado stepping up big as well, the Sox will put up a great deal of runs this season.

5. What is your favorite part about working for the Silver Sox?

While broadcasting is no longer my main responsibility with the Sox, there is still nothing better than being behind the mic late in a close game.

6. For the local readers, tell us a little about your sports program, the no-name sports program. How did you get that job and what is your favorite part about the show?

Well I certainly hope we can lose that title soon, but it is Reno's only morning sports talk show live on Fox Sports Radio 1450, Monday - Friday at 8 AM. My favorite part of the show is when we get quality guests on with us. Silver Sox manager Jeffrey Leonard was on, along with Giants broadcaster Dave Flemming, and a number of well known local athletes. My co-host Chris Ciarlo and I focus on being up beat and entertaining on topics in and out of sports, as people always remember when we bring up things other sports shows would not.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Game Reports (12-14JUN 2008)

I will be out of the area so there will only be capsule updates until I return on June 30th. I'll also post some team "notes"; basically observations beyond a simple game recap.

JUL 12, 2008, vs. Long Beach: Another good game for Sox fans as the Sox take a three game winning streak into their match-up with the Southern Division leading, 11-4 Orange County Flyers. The Sox swept the Armada and did it by scoring 40 runs in three nights, an average of over 13 runs per game. The Sox had good pitching for two games and decent pitching for the last game. Jesse Hall (1-1) gave up three earned runs across 6 frames and Mike Reeves, did very well with two scoreless innings. Shawn Ravenscraft gave up 1 run in 1 inning of work so he is still struggling. But the latter two have really struggled as starters so maybe some bullpen time will help. In any event, I know have no idea who starters #4 and #5. Kaiser, our ace this year, can't jump the rotation again with a double header looming on Saturday so we'll just have to wait and see who Jeffrey Leonard sends to the mound. I saw they signed a new pitcher yesterday so maybe he will be the guy.

JUL 13, 2008 @ Orange County: Well, it was good while it lasted. The Sox 3-game winning streak came to an end in Fullerton last night with an 8-6 loss to the Flyers. What made it hard to swallow was yet another bullpen meltdown for our Sox as Jeremy Flanagan got lit up for five runs in the bottom of the eight to squander a 6-3 lead. Our starting pitcher was player coach Reggie Leslie who came in last night with a pinch hit single. Well, tonight, he delivered a five inning performance that allowed just 1 run on three hits. Unfortunately, the bullpen let him down as Brian Fulcher gave up 2 runs in his one inning of work before Flanagan let the game slip away for good. Juan Senreiso got another homerun and he now leads the team with 4. Speaking of homeruns, Orange County is tearing up the league in that department with three guys leading the league all will 8 homeruns each. All are on pace to set a new league homerun record if they can keep up that pace. That mark is currently held by Peanut Williams who knocked 20 out of the park in 2006 for these same Flyers.

July 14th, 2008 @ Orange County. Tonight brought a double header. Though the Sox split the series, it comes as team pitching continues to be a bad news story. The team gave up 19 runs over the two game set which is even worse than normal considering that it was two 7-inning games. The starters this time were pretty bad including Marc Kaiser. Both he and Kevin Frederick, who made his first start of the year in game one, combined to give up 11 runs in just 6.2 innings. And, the bullpen didn't provide any stability either as all got bombed...Mario Guilen gave up 4 runs in two innings; Mike Reeves got an out before putting the next three guys on base and getting pulled; Shawn Ravenscraft gave up 6 hits and two runs in 3.2 innings. The lone bright spot was Brian Fulcher who got out of a bases loaded jam by retiring one batter. Mike Reeves and Kevin Frederick have not had a good outing all year; everyone else is hit or miss (usually miss); and, Marc Kaiser who has been doing well is starting a game every time there is a chance to do so which will wear him out before the season ends.

Some other observations: Everyone who wondered who the emergency catcher is now knows it is Ryan Brown who caught for game one...frustrations are getting high as both Steven Alexander and Kevin Frederick were tossed from game one for mouthing off to the umpire...John Hattig has quietly moved into second place on the team with three homeruns on the season...Andre Alvarado has show flashes of brilliance at SS but still leads the team with 8 of the 30 errors committed by the Sox; he is committing an error about once every two games. So far it hasn't killed the Sox since it there have only been 11 unearned runs on the year but on more than one inning they have kept innings going which lead to more runs being scored. As bad as the pitching has been, the Sox need every advantage they can far the Sox have allowed 21 more runs than they have scored.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Game Report: Long Beach at Reno (6/11/08)

It was another great night for the Sox as they not only have their first winning streak of the year but did it in convincing fashion winning 16-2. It was never even close as the Sox destroy Ryan Claypool with a 7-run inning plagued by some serious control problems by Claypool.
Andre Alvarado had a career night. The veteran of a single pro campaign with the independent Brockton Rox had three homeruns tonight. Not only did he start the night with zero, not only did he jump into a tie with Juan Senreiso as team leader in home runs with three, but he did it after never hitting a homerun in his professional career. I have been impressed with Alvarado all year. His defense has been pretty good and he also hits for average (.318 in 44 at bats) and has a good slugging average (.523) due mainly to the fact that he leads the team in triples with three. Ben Deach remarked that he is a genuinely nice guy which makes you happy when a guy like that has a big night.

With the early season pitching woes of the Sox, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the strong outing by Steve Russell. He only gave up 2 runs in 7 innings which is great. Newly Acquired pitcher Brian Fulcher came in and shut the door. So even the bullpen seems to be settling down which is a great sign.
Reggie Leslie, one of the team coaches was activated as a player today and came in to pinch hit for Juan Senreiso. He promptly delivered a single to right field and then took over in right field. Not sure if this is a stop gap measure or not but more power to the current Vacaville, CA-area High School baseball coach.
So the Sox will look for the series sweep as they send newly christened starter Jesse Hall to the hill. Hall started the season as a reliever until he started his first game last Saturday taking a loss in 6 inning pitched giving up 5 runs on 9 hits. However, the good news is that he had 9 Ks on the night to just one walk so if he can duplicate that performance, the Sox have a good chance of going into their series with Orange County on a three game streak. Of course, I probably just jinxed the team but I’ll take my chances.

My schedule won't allow me to make it to the stadium as I need to get some more stuff done before leaving for my Army training but I plan on listening to most of the game tonight.

My Trip Report and the Sox win last night

I was away from Reno for the past six days on a short family vacation to northern California. I managed to squeeze in three games as well visiting the stadiums of the Oakland As, the San Jose Giants, and the Modesto Nuts.

The last visit actually had a GBL connection. I noted on the roster that they had a GBL Alum, Chris Malone. Having been to Chico for a game in 2005 and 2007, I mentioned that it was a great amosphere there. Well, a guy overheard me and said that Malone was with Chico for only one game and that he too liked Chico and thought it drew better than the Nuts based upon his trip there. The guy was Malone's father. Chris also pitched that night and we got to meet his whole family who was there to see it. I also heard some interesting stories about him which is always good to keep my family interested in the game. Malone pitched 2 innings giving up no runs; in his only start in Chico, by the way, he pitched six innings giving up one run.

As for the Sox, I got home in time to hear the last two innings of the game. The bottom line is that they won and we need more of that for sure. The days off again allowed Marc Kaiser to jump up in the rotation. He only went five and gave up five (four earned) but he did keep the Sox in it which at least gave them a chance. The bullpen, for their part, finished it out allowing just 1 run across the final four innings on good efforts from Mario Guilen and newly signed Jeremy Flanagan. The former got the win and the latter got the save.

Our two players acquired in the trade with St. George continue to make solid impacts on the team as Gary Harris is batting above .300 and stole 4 bases in last nights contest. Ryan Brown went 2-4 and had 4 ribbies as he also is hitting above .300 (his BA is actually .400 right now in limited action).

I will try to get to a game either tonight or tomorrow night and then I have some Army stuff to do so I won't be able to be a regular at Peccole until the first week of July. Hope to see you there!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Game Reports for 5-10 June 2008

I'll be unable to listen to or attend games until next Wednesday so I will just give short comments based upon the box scores and team reports that are sent out. Thanks again for reading and I welcome your comments since I can't be at the game.

June 5th, 2008 -- It looks like things are finally coming together for the Sox. For the second night in a row, the starter gave an excellent performance but this time it lead to the Sox' 2nd win on the season and the first at home. Steve Russell went six innings giving up just 1 run on 4 hits while striking out 6. Juan Senreiso showed flashes of his 2007 team MVP season with a 2-HR, 5-RBI night and all but one Sox player got a hit in the game. The bullpen remains a cause for concern, however, as they gave of 7 runs in 3 innings but the Sox still were able to pull out the win.

June 6th, 2008 -- Wow, what a difference a day makes. After a two good starts and a win yesterday, the Sox pitching got shelled for 17 runs. Starter Mike Reeves was yanked after just three innings after he surrendered 8 runs. Two former starters, Shawn Ravenscroft and Jason Cline came in as relievers for this one and got blasted for their trouble surrendering another 9 runs before the night was through. John Hattig got a homerun in the losing effort and is now second to Senreiso (3HRs) with two jacks on the year. This latest pitching disaster has pushed the team ERA to 10.66 which is last in the league. In fact, second to last is Chico at 7.50 so the Sox are not only last but last by a wide margin. Again, I hope some changes are in order because I am not even sure who the starters on this team are after all the juggling of the pitchers. Hopefully the pitching coach has noticed some things and can make some adjustments; otherwise this will be a long season!

June 7, 2008 -- Some changes were made and hopefully this shake-up gets the team headed in the right direction. Danny Hall, acquired in the St. George trade, and Jason Cline, our #4 starter, were released today. No signings were announced so we'll have to wait for those. But for now, Hall (0-0, 18.00) and Cline (0-1, 18.90) are both headed elsewhere.

As for today's game, the Sox lost again, 10-3. Newly starting Jesse Hall gave up 5 runs in 6 innings which was servicable considering that the Sox score an average of 7 runs per game. Unfortunately, not only was there production below average tonight, but their bullpen once again made sure the game was out of reach by allowing 5 runs over the last 3 frames. I think the guy I am most surprised with is Kevin Frederick. He pitched 8 games with the Twins in 2002 and then 22 games with the Toronto Blue Jays going 0-2 with a 6.59 ERA in 2004. With that kind of experience, you'd think he'd be having a little more success against GBL hitters than his 0-1, 12.60 ERA statistics. Granted, the MLB experience is from 4 years ago but he still has it. He is one of the guys we need to get on track for the 'pen to be successful but he has been ineffective in his three games.

The Sox now get a two day break so hopefully some rested arms and some roster changes can get the guys on a winning streak. Let's go Sox!

June 8th, 2008 -- I found Carlos Madrid was officially listed on the inactive list (as of June 1) and there were two more releases today as C Gilbert Guilin (.333, 1HR, 3 RBI in 3 games) and RHP Paul Wilson (0-2, 15.63 ERA in 5 games) were both sent home. Still no signings as three roster spots (by my count after all the transaction) have opened over the weekend but we should see a completely revamped Sox Roster tomorrow night as they open a set against the Long Beach Armada.

The Armada, by the way, just had their catcher David Parrish picked up by the Rockies. Parrish, the son of MLB-great Lance Parrish, will report to AA.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Game Report: Long Beach @ Reno (6/4/2008)

The Sox came home and we had a really good pitching duel. Marc Kaiser, able to jump spots in the rotation due to a 3 day break between series, went to the hill for Reno. His opponent, Nick Bierbrodt, pitched well for the Armada striking out 7 in the first 9 batters he faced. I am actually pretty familiar with Bierbrodt since he came to major league baseball with my favorite team, the Arizona Diamondbacks. He is much better than his current record (0-1, 6.43 in 3 games and 1 start) and he definitely showed it tonight.

Bierbrodt pitched into the 7th giving up just one run and 3 hits while Kaiser pitched into the 8th leaving with a 3-1 deficit.

Kaiser has been the anchor of this bullpen and it was good to get him in the first game vs. Long Beach since I still consider them the best team on paper as I explained in a previous post and he did not disappoint. Great game from our Ace as well as Long Beach's starter.

Unfortunately, the lead would get bigger for Long Beach as Jason Cline was again ineffective in relief as the final tally would be 6-3; the Reno offense would not be able to bail out the pitching this game as they only were able to manage 5 hits against the Armada pitching staff. They did score two in the bottom of the ninth so they definitely went down swinging. But they are 1-8 all the same so hopefully they can get the job done starting tomorrow when they send Steve Russell to the hill (0-1, 11.17 ERA) to battle Ryan Claypool (1-0, 9.00).

Monday, June 2, 2008

Reno pulls off 5-player trade with St. George

After getting stomped by the Roadrunners for four of the last five games, it looks like Jeff Leonard saw that it was time to make a move. And what better way than against a team he's been watching closely for this past week?

Reno sends DH Will Henderson (.250, 1 HR, 2RBIs) and a player to be named later to St. George for 1B Ryan Brown (.188, 0 HR, 2 RBI), Gary Harris (.300, 0HR, 0RBI, 4 SBs), and pitcher Danny Hall (0-0, 13.50 in 4.2 innings).

Brown brings some power hitting 4 home runs in just 15 games. He went on the inactive list pretty quickly so we really never got to see what he could do. Harris will bring some speed having stolen 11 bases in 75 games for the roadrunners last season. And Hall brings a badly needed left hander to the bullpen but he got shelled by Reno this past week so we'll see if he is the answer to the problems the Sox have been having with pitching.

On what might be a bad note, Harris is supposed to play second for the injured Carlos Madrid. Though he isn't on the inactive list yet, bringing in a guy to play his position when we already have 2B Shaughn Neal can't be a good sign. Neal has struggled (.188 in 16 at bats) so this move may mean they need more than a stop gap measure at second. We'll see how it plays out but for now, Kudos to Jeff Leonard for being willing to make a move before the first half gets totally out of hand.

Ben Deach made a good point in his last radio broadcast. Last year there were way to many moves. There ended up being over 40 players who wore the Sox uniform last year and with a situation like that, no one really gets include the fans who like to see familiar names. But, as Ben pointed out, they also brought in Senreiso, Kane Simmons, and Adam Amar who all got signed to major league contracts at the end of the season. But he said Jeff Leonard and Curt Jacey will probably work for some consistency in the line-up.

So the key is to make moves that will improve the team quickly while not destroying the chemistry. That can be hard with only an 88-game season split into 44-game halfs (think mini-seasons). Since each half results in a playoff spot they are critical. To apply it to MLB standards, we would be about 30 games into the season right now, or entering May. As you know, most teams start to get nervous if their team is not doing well by memorial day. Well, to use this analogy, memorial day is less than a week away for these teams so if you see a chance to improve the team, you have to take it. But you do have to have a little patience as well especially if a guy is well liked in the club house. We'll see if this adds the spark we need. I hope so.