Transaction – June 26

Joe Velleggia was assigned to the Shorebirds from Aberdeen and Michael Rooney was sent up to Double-A Bowie.

McCormick Field’s Right Field Wall

Bret Lasky gives you a look at the unique challenge for left-handed batters and right fielders at McCormick Field.

Einar Diaz led Panama in ’11 Baseball World Cup

Einar Diaz, Shorebirds field coach, spent much of the off season in Panama as the manager of the Panama National Team in the 2011 Baseball World Cup.  It was the first time that Panama had ever hosted the event (39th World Cup).

The Panama National team did very well in round-robin play going 5-2 with wins over Greece (8-3), Chinese Taipei (14-8), Puerto Rico (4-2), Japan (6-2) and Canada (12-3).  They won five straight games before losing to the Netherlands (the eventual winner of the entire event) and the United States.

Panama was one of eight teams that advanced past the first round.  Panama opened the second round with a win over Venezuela, but a loss to South Korea ended their hopes of a gold medal run.  Panama wound up finishing eighth.

Netherlands beat Cuba 2-1 to win the gold medal. 

Panama placed three players on the All-Star Team: Damaso Espino, Concepcion Rodriguez and Fernando Seguignol. 

Einar is part of a long and established list of former major league players from Panama.  Some of the current players include: Carlos Ruiz, Mariano Rivera and Manny Acosta.  Former players include: Rod Carew, Ruben Rivera and Ramon “Ray” Webster.

The Shorebirds have the benefit this year of a young, but really experienced coaching staff.  Diaz, Ryan Minor and Troy Mattes are all under the age of 40 and have an encyclopedia’s worth of baseball knowledge.   

Esposito-Holliday Connection

Jason Esposito, Shorebirds third baseman and Orioles second round draft pick, played his college baseball at Vanderbilt.  Three years ago Josh Holliday, the older brother of Matt Holliday, became the hitting coach at Vanderbilt.  Josh is considered one of the top assistants in college baseball.  Matt is of course one of the top hitters in major league baseball.  In case you need numbers back that last sentence up, Matt is a five-time MLB all-star who hit .296 with 22 home runs 75 RBIs for the world champion Cardinals last season.

So, Josh Holliday was Jason’s hitting coach at Vandy the last two seasons he was there.  Josh was a very good college baseball player himself.  In 1999, he helped guide Oklahoma State to the College World Series by hitting .290 with 15 home runs and 65 RBIs.

Here is a link to Josh’s bio on Vanderbilt’s website if you want to learn more – CLICK HERE

Haven’t talked to Jason yet about the connection but it’s certainly an interesting one.

Talk to you all tonight!

 

Orlando Cabrera Retires

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??

Top Talent?

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!

 

 

 

 

2nd Longest Affiliation in SAL

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…

Northern Division

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

Southern Division

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

Tommy Shields to Burlington

Image

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. 

http://www.thetimesnews.com/sports/league-51375-royals-shields.html

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.

Talk soon!

 

Year 17

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. 

Interesting Trend

I think anyone that has watched the Shorebirds over the last several years knows that power has not been a team staple.  The numbers depict the notion.

Look at the HR numbers compared to the rest of the teams in the SAL over the last three years.

2011 – 60 (last in SAL)

2010 – 63 (12th out of 14)

2009 – 49 (last in SAL)

Of course there are factors other than lack of power that contribute to home run totals.  Perdue Stadium is not your ideal home run hitting park – there is no secret about that.

It’s interesting to consider league champions in relation to home runs.  Greensboro won the championship in 2011 and blasted 142 long balls (second most in the SAL).  Note – NewBridge Bank Park is widely considered one of the best home run hitters parks in the league.  In 2010, Lakewood was 8th in the league with 83 home runs.  Lakewood also won the title in 2009 and hit only 56 homers (13th out of 16 teams).

Home runs do not directly correlate to championship – we know that to be certain, but it definitely would be a nice boost for the Shorebirds offense to connect on more long balls.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.