One of the greatest players to ever suit up for the Shorebirds called it a career yesterday. 15-year MLB veteran Orlando Cabrera retired yesterday.
How many of you remember Cabrera on that 1996 Shorebirds team (Montreal Expos)? Just from being around this city/ballpark over the last three years, I can tell you that people have fond memories of him.
In 1996, he played in 134 games for the Shorebirds and batted .252 with 14 home runs and 65 RBIs. He also stole 51 bases. I can say with certainty that it was his best minor league season by far.
Cabrera went onto play in 1,985 games in the major leagues for nine different franchises (Montreal, Boston, Angels, White Sox, Athletics, Twins, Reds, Indians, Giants). In 2011, Cabrera played in 91 games for the Indians and played his final 39 games in a San Francisco Giants uniform.
Here are some of his other big league numbers…
- 2,055 hits
- 123 home runs
- 459 doubles
- 854 RBI
- 216 SB
Don’t forget that Cabrera helped the Red Sox win a World Series Title in 2004 when Nomar Garciaparra was dealt to the Cubs. He played in 59 games that season.
Who wants to see Cabrera make an appearance at Perdue Stadium this summer??
Steve Melewski wrote an interesting blog this past Saturday (January 14) proclaiming that “Dylan Bundy is likely to begin next season (2012) pitching for the Single-A Delmarva Shorebirds.”
Steve has a really good pulse on the minor leagues so I hold his words to a high standard. What a treat that would be for everyone on the Eastern Shore. It would be the third year in a row in which the Shorebirds opened the year with the Orioles top round pick from the prior season (Hobgood, Machado).
The most interesting thing about Dylan to me is that he is on the Orioles 40-Man roster. Have the Shorebirds ever had a player on the 40-Man? Obviously excluding rehab assignment players. He signed a big-league deal when he was drafted.
The other unique aspect of Dylan is his brother, Bobby, who pitched very well on Delmarva back in 2010. Bobby had a bulldog mentality on the hill and was a good character guy off the field. Based on everything you read, the brothers have a great relationship so I’d expect Dylan to be very similar to Bobby in many aspects.
Melewski’s blog also talks about the potential for some serious depth at third base (Jason Esposito, Nicky Delmonico, Connor Narron). Three big names that could play the hot corner at Perdue Stadium.
The Shorebirds have had a pretty good tradition at third base over the years…
Jonathan Schoop (2011) – .316, 8 HR, 34 RBIs
Tyler Henson (2008) – .265, 11 HR, 62 RBIs
Billy Rowell (2007) – .273, 9 HR, 57 RBIs
Ryan Finan (2006) – .262, 17 HR, 78 RBIs
Tripper Johnson (2002) – .260, 11 HR, 71 RBIs
Napoleon Calzado (2000) – .278, 7HR, 83 RBI
Rich Paz (1998) – .320, 5 HR, 56 RBIs
Ryan Minor (1997) – .307, 24 HR, 97 RBIs
Jose Fernandez (1996) – .273, 12 HR, 70 RBIs
Thanks for checking in!
The Delmarva Shorebirds have the second longest active affiliation with a major league club in the SAL. The 2012 season will mark our 16th consecutive season as a Baltimore Orioles affiliate. Only the Asheville Tourists boast a longer standing current relationship with a major league team. They have been a Rockies affiliate since 1994. No other team is really even close to the Tourists and Shorebirds.
I think there is something to said for consistency and the Shorebirds have had that with the Orioles. Many minor league cities go through constant affiliation change. Not here on Delmarva.
Below is a complete list of the first years of the current affiliations…
Delmarva Shorebirds (Orioles) – 1997
Hagerstown Suns (Nationals) – 2007
Greensboro Grasshoppers (Marlins) – 2003
Hickory Crawdads (Rangers) – 2009
Kannapolis Intimidators (White Sox) – 2001
Lakewood BlueClaws (Phillies) – 2001
West Virginia Power (Pirates) – 2009
Greenville Drive (Red Sox) – 2005
Asheville Tourists (Rockies) – 1994
Augusta GreenJackets (Giants) – 2005
Charleston RiverDogs (Yankees) – 2005
Lexington Legends (Astros) – 2001
Rome Braves (Braves) – 2003
Savannah Sand Gnats (Mets) – 2007
The architect of the 1997 championship season, the first in franchise history, was manager Tommy Shields (pictured with the late John Moss, courtesy of ’98 Shorebirds yearbook). He spent one year with the Shorebirds, but made a lasting impression.
Yesterday, the Burlington Royals (short-season, Royals) announced that Tommy Shields would take over as manager. Here is a quote I pulled from the Times News.
“It will be a challenge,” Shields said Monday. “Anytime you manage, it’s a challenge having your own guys and kind of directing a team. (At this level) you get kids under the lights for the first time.”
The ’97 team here on Delmarva was obviously ultra-talented. The 1-2 punch of Ryan Minor and Calvin Pickering blasted 49 combined home runs. For the sake of perspective, the 2011 Shorebirds hit 60 combined homers, only 11 more than Minor and Pickering.
On the mound, Americo Peguero won 11 games and Ryan Kohlmeier locked away 24 saves.
Don’t forget that Shields played in two games for the Baltimore Orioles in 1992. He also played in 20 games for the Chicago Cubs in 1993. His minor league career was solid – 8 seasons, .284 career hitter, 47 homers.
Before this current gig, he spent seven years in the Atlanta Braves organization. He has also managed in the St. Louis Cardinals system.
In case you’re wondering, he is now 47 years old.
I’m reading through the 1998 Shorebirds program and Mike James wrote a nice piece on the ’97 team. Did you know that Minor hit a 3-run homer in the ’97 SAL All-Start Game – I didn’t.
How about this story – again courtesy of the program. Shields was apparently smoked in the cheek during infield practice one day by a Ryan Minor throw. It shattered Shields’ cheekbone and necessitated surgery to install a metal plate and several pins. He was out of commission for a little while. In his place, a young roving instructor named Dave Stockstill stepped in. Interesting, right?
I’ll have to ask Minor about that story next time he drops in the office.
92 days until the home opener on April 12 against Greensboro – now the Grasshoppers, not the Bats.
Now that 2012 is about a week old, I think it’s time to start rejuvenating the blog again. Special thanks to those that read the blog in 2011 – the blog finished 68th in all of MLB.com blogs based on page views (not bad at all considering we’re going up against MLB blogs). Let’s strive to be #1 this year.
First order of business – the hot stove banquet is coming on January 28. I really think it’s going to be great this year with the new format – less traditional listen while someone famous speaks and more of a roundtable discussion between attendees and our favorite MASNsports.com bloggers (Roch Kubatko, Steve Melewski, Pete Kerzel). Come with questions because those guys are really knowledgeable about the Orioles and the farm system.
Secondly, I got the go ahead from Chris Bitters (our GM) today to purchase a video camera so we’re going to add video to this blog and our website in 2012. We’ll do a lot more player interviews and things you’re going to love.
Switching gears, I’ve been designing several of our promo pieces for the upcoming year (pocket schedule, magnet schedule, etc.) so I’ve got the 2012 schedule on my mind. A few notes…
- In June, we play 6 straight games against the Lakewood BlueClaws (we play three here, 6/8-10 and then meet in Lakewood for 3 more, 6/11-13. First time I’ve seen that.
- My favorite SAL road trip is finally back on the schedule – May 2-8. Off to Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, SC. Great places to travel.
- This year will be the first time since 2006 that we finish the season on the road (August 31 through September 3 in West Virginia.) The Shorebirds ended the season at home from 2007-2011.
- We play Greensboro (defending champs) 12 times in the 1st two months of the season
- The Shorebirds open the year with 18 games in 18 days – welcome to full season ball.
Now, the million dollar question is what will the 25-man roster look like at the start of the season. Time will tell of course.
I know I’m jumping around a ton but stay with me. I think I’m onto something. What is one of the most important statistics to championship caliber team? Answer: stolen bases. Ok, let me explain by showing you what the most recent SAL champions did on the bases.
2011: Greensboro (164, 5th in the SAL)
2010: Lakewood (183, 2nd in the SAL)
2009: Lakewood (210, 1st in the SAL)
2008: Augusta (163, 4th in the SAL)
2007: Columbus (200, 2nd in the SAL)
Still not a believer? Guess who led the Eastern League (AA) in stolen bases this year – New Hampshire, the league champion.
Stolen bases are a team statistic that I think more people should talk about. Everyone talks RBIs and HRs but having 2-4 guys that can get on and take additional bases might just be the key ingredient to an MiLB title.
That’s all I have for today – have a great day!
Keep checking back for daily/weekly updates about everything related to the club.