Welcome to the off-season. It’s somewhat odd waking up and not heading over to the park in preparation for a game, whether on the road or at home.
I simply wanted to take this space and thank all the folks that routinely read the Shorebirds blog this season. It was a lot of fun for me to do and I hope I added some light into the 2009 Shorebirds.
I would be remised if I didn’t thank the coaching staff (Orlando Gomez, Blaine Beatty, Ryan Minor, Erik Brown and Aaron Scott) for the access on the road and at home.
Also, I certainly owe a thank you to the entire front office staff for their help.
THANK AGAIN FOR A GREAT 2009 SEASON!
P.S. – We may be continuing the blog in the off-season. So, continue to check the Shorebirds Blog and website, www.theshorebirds.com for more information about that.
I was pondering how this 2009 Shorebirds club would be remembered. Heres what I came up with…
2009 was the year of the stolen base and overall team speed.
The Shorebirds are going to finish with the most team stolen bases since the 2000 season.
1) 232 (1997)
2) 215 (1996)
3) 194 (1998)
4) 188 (2000)
5) 178 (2009, with one game left)
Think about the overall team speed that the Shorebirds had this season. Guys like Kyle Hudson, Xavier Avery, Joe Mahoney, L.J. Hoes, Greg Miclat.
Specifically, you have to think about the resurrection of Joe Mahoney’s game. Stealing 29 bases in 2009 after stealing just 3 total bases through the first 160 games of his minor league career.
You also have to look at the triples this season for the ‘Birds when you speak of team speed. Xavier Avery ranks tied for sixth in the South Atlantic League in stolen bases. Joe Mahoney was tied for seventh in the SAL in triples with seven.
Some other ways to remember this team…
1) Cole McCurry’s second half
2) Eddie Gamboa’s start with the ‘Birds and rise through the system
3) Ron Welty’s fine season – SAL mid-season and post-season all-star
There are certainly plenty of other overall ways that you can remember this team. Those are mine.
I was just up in the press box a bit and I noticed the nice work done by our grounds crew (Dave and Caroline). I thought it was a nice touch that I have never seen before. Even the Lakewood radio crew commented about the “Thanks Fans!” painted onto the field.
NOTE: Yes, the tarp is on the field, but I know it is scheduled to come off soon. Let’s play ball – its the finale!
Cole McCurry tied the Shorebirds career starts record with his 38th start with the Shorebirds. Richard Bartlett made 38 starts for the ‘Birds between 2001-2003.
McCurry was outstanding. In eight innings (career high), he allowed just one run on four hits. He also struck out nine batters. He becomes the first Shorebirds pitcher to finish the eighth inning this season.
I think it is fair to say that McCurry’s dynamite season has given him the right to move up the ladder in 2010. Therefore, tonight was his last start with the Shorebirds. Here are his career numbers.
in 38 starts, he is 10-15 with a 3.71 ERA in a total of 206.1 innings pitched with 207 career strike outs.
SINGLE SEASON STRIKE OUTS IN FRANCHISE HISTORY
1) John Stephens – 217 (1999)
2) Javier Vazquez – 173 (1996)
3) Kevin Hart – 164 ( 2005)
4) Luis Ramirez – 155 (2005)
5) Troy Mattes – 151 (1996)
6) David Hernandez – 149 (2006)
7) Jason Baker – 147 (1996)
8) Cole McCurry – 146 (2009)
Jeff Fiorentino made his long awaited return to the bigs today for the Orioles. He went 2-3 with two runs and two RBIs in the Orioles 7-0 win over the Rangers today.
Fiorentino played in 49 games for the Shorebirds back in 2004 – his first professional season. He hit .302 with 10 home runs and 36 RBIs. He also scored 40 runs in just 49 games with the ‘Birds.
His career has been similar to a roller-coaster (lots of ups and downs).
Below is an article written by Sean Walsh (Special to MLB.com) that details his return and ride back.
BALTIMORE — Jeff Fiorentino waited three years between starts.
On Sunday, the Orioles’ second-round pick in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft made his first start since 2006 — batting seventh and playing left field.
It’s been a long, winding road for Fiorentino, who spent time in Cincinnati and Oakland between stints with the Orioles organization. His September callup was based upon a strong campaign at Triple-A Norfolk.
Fiorentino hit .312 with 12 home runs and 67 RBIs in 365 at-bats with the Tides. He reached base at a .387 clip and went 13-of-19 in stolen-base attempts.
“You don’t control the things you can’t worry about,” manager Dave Trembley said. “You go play and try to impress people and play your game. In the case of Fiorentino, he put together a nice season at Triple-A. We know him in the organization. He’s a versatile guy who can play all three slots. He can run a little bit. He handles the bat. We’ll do the best we can to try to get him some playing time.”
In the first half of September, he should see significant time. With All-Star center fielder Adam Jones on the shelf with a sprained left ankle, Fiorentino is the primary backup at all three outfield spots. He’ll also spell Felix Pie in center and Nolan Reimold in left.
Beyond September, Fiorentino’s future is up in the air. Pie seems to have staked a claim on the fourth outfield role, and he will be pushed by Lou Montanez in Spring Training. Reimold has claimed left field with a strong rookie campaign, and Jones and right fielder Nick Markakis aren’t going anywhere.
Under club president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail, the Orioles have begun to stockpile talent in the outfield and on the mound. Fiorentino is simply another factor in a much deeper organization.
“I think you just keep playing,” Trembley said. “I would say that Reimold has made the most of his opportunity, and it would appear that Pie is doing the same. We do have some youth in the outfield. You have Nicky, and Nicky is 25. He still hasn’t reached his potential yet. Jones just turned 24. You’ve got Reimold, who’s had a very good rookie season. But, as Andy says, it’s inventory.”
I fell like my blog has lacked pictures this season. So, here are some shots from last nights game. For those that live from away from Salisbury and never get a chance to come to Perdue Stadium, here is a small taste. I’m going to try to put up a bunch of the “Pictures of the Year” tomorrow.
Picture number one is from a promotion on top of the Shorebirds dugout. There is Sherman.
Picture number two is our Robinson’s Hour Hand Skate Shop Game Time Kid of the Game
Picture number three is of Sherman during the Mascot Race
Picture number four is from the ceremonial first pitches. The man on the left is Mayor Jim Ireton, a frequent visitor to the ballpark. The player is Ryan O’Shea.
Another large crowd attended a Shorebirds win last night (13-7). Nine runs in the seventh inning. The crowds have been outstanding all year here. Recently our GM Chris Bitters asked me to find average attendance figures for the 14 years of Shorebirds baseball.
With two home games left, the Shorebirds are currently averaging 3,583 fans per night this season! As you can see from below, that is the largest average attendance since 2002!
2008: 226,754 3,436
2007: 220,219 3,441
2006: 217,980 3,406
2005: 219,361 3,179
2004: 219,200 3,515
2003: 228,344 3,460
2002: 253,171 3,723
2001: 268,143 3,886
2000: 264,924 4,205
1999: 296,004 4,290
1998: 295,938 4,228
1997: 324,412 4,915
1996: 315,011 4,846
We’re not saying goodbye to the Shorebirds blog yet, but the crowds have been awesome we thank you all for that.
Two more games left! 6:05 Start times on Sunday and Monday.
The Orioles named their minor leaguers of the month for August and unfortunately Cole McCurry did not get the award for Minor League Pitcher of the Month. Luis Lebron of the Bowie BaySox received the honor instead. I understand that Lebron had a perfect month (0.00) but he did it in 14.0 innings. Taking nothing away from what he did, Cole McCurry allowed just one earned run in 29.1 innings.
McCurry was certainly in the running but its Lebron that gets the award.
By the way, Brandon Waring was named the O’s Player of the Month for August.
I know this doesn’t really relate to the Shorebirds or the Orioles but a cool story nonetheless. Mike Hessman of the Tuledo Mud Hens (AAA) played all nine position in last nights game.
Here is the story from Milb.com written by Danny Wild…
Sporting a mohawk and uneven socks, Mike Hessman slowly walked off the mound after giving up two runs in the top of the ninth inning on Friday night.
Every fan at Toledo’s Fifth Third Field stood and applauded — royal treatment for the King of the Mud Hens.
Hessman went 1-for-5 with a single and four strikeouts, was thrown out stealing, suffered his first blown save, took the loss and played all nine positions in the Mud Hens’ 12-11 loss to the Columbus Clippers.
The former International League MVP has done about as much as a Minor Leaguer can over 14 seasons — a home run championship, an appearance at the Olympics and even a homer in his first Major League at-bat.
On Friday, the 31-year-old managed to add another chapter to his career.
“LP (manager Larry Parrish) came up to me and said, ‘Do you want to pull a Hoop?’ I didn’t know what he meant until he told me he wanted to know if I wanted to play all nine [positions],” Hessman told the Toledo Blade.
Hessman’s former teammate, Kevin Hooper, was the last Mud Hen to play all nine positions in a game, accomplishing the feat in the final game of the 2005 season.
“I said, ‘Sure, let’s do it,'” Hessman said. “It was fun, but it was extremely frustrating. But the fans were great, cheering and everything, and it was a lot fun.”
Touted by the Mud Hens as “King Hessman,” Toledo’s all-time home run leader started the game behind the plate and worked his way around the infield from first to third before taking his spot at each outfield position. He moved from right field to the mound for the ninth, in line to pick up his first career save.
Things didn’t go as planned, at least in terms of the save.
Fans gave him a standing ovation as he recorded two quick outs before getting in trouble. Mickey Hall singled and raced all the way to third base on a wild pitch before scoring on a base hit by Niuman Romero.
Donnie Webb made it three straight singles and Josh Barfield reached on shortstop Audy Ciriaco’s throwing error that allowed Romero to score the go-ahead run.
“It was frustrating when I didn’t get the job done in the end,” Hessman told the newspaper. “I expected to get the guys out and I expected to do my job. But I left too many pitches over the plate.”
Hessman’s adventurous night appeared over after he walked the bases loaded with two outs. With Parrish and the Mud Hens infielders gathered on the mound, the fans only got louder. Finally, Hessman induced an inning-ending groundout from Wes Hodges.
Friday marked the second time the tall right-hander has taken the mound this season. He pitched a perfect inning on July 2 against Columbus, his first appearance since recording two outs for the Mud Hens in 2005. His pitching debut came way back in 2001 for Double-A Greenville.
A first baseman on most nights, Hessman has settled into the role of Triple-A veteran and fan favorite in Toledo. Last September, he hit .296 with five homers in a 12-game stint with Detroit.
It’s been quite a week for the record books, too. Hessman’s 22nd homer of the season on Thursday also was his 200th at the Triple-A level. He’s hit at least 20 in nine of his 14 seasons.
On Friday, he became the first Minor Leaguer to play all nine positions in a game since Adam Ricks did it for Winston-Salem on Aug. 31, 2008.
It was unbelievable how many people lined up starting at 4:45 for the Matt Wieters Bobblehead that we gave out tonight. Those things were gone within the hour. Nick and I went to grab dinner about 5:15 for the pressbox and when we returned the parking lot was flooded before 6:00 PM.
So, I have a question now. Who should the Shorebirds make a bobblehead of next year?????
It has to be somebody that is going to draw the crowds like Weiters. It also has to be an Orioles player or someone in the Orioles farm system.
– Brian Matusz
– Chris Tillman
– Adam Jones
– Nick Markakis
Nick brought up the idea of maybe doing a Hall-of-Fame Bobblehead Series:
Any other candidates out there or does anyone have an idea?
Let us know!