Monday, February 18, 2013

SIGNS OF SPRING

One of the best parts of the winter is watching signings, the highest levels of talent set the market and tend to take their time. If they would go ahead and agree to terms early we wouldnt have so many ballplayers wondering where they will be working. I wonder if this isnt why some guys take jobs in Japan and other countries, the lure of a sure thing has to have its merits. Its a nice option compared to waiting to see if you get a good paying job or a lower level minor league job or even no gig at all.



FORMER BISCUITS
Nowak hitting at home
A couple weeks ago Chris Nowak signed with the Dbax, he led the independent Atlantic league with 34 homers last year. Nowak really knows the strike zone and plays nice defense. He will never steal twenty bags but has sneaky speed when he needs it, especially for a corner infielder. I hope he enjoys working out west!






Reid Brignac was sold to the Rockies for cash, providing insurance and depth off the bench in case of Tulowitzki injury. This will be the first season in a looong time that Reid hasn't been in the same organization as Longo. At one time they were the left side of the future for the Devil Rays.
Reid Brignac wearing Ocho for the Skitz

Derek Dietrich
Mentioned already out of the Marlins camp as a possibility to break camp with the team, Deet hit a solid .271 for us just this past summer and played a very good defense. That being said, he let one or two balls get by that would have really changed the outcome of some big ballgames, but for the Marlins Derek is one good spring training from making the Big Leagues. 
The Marlins love Derek's enthusiasm!



Elliot Johnson was named as the PTBNL and joins the ranks of the "former Biscuits no longer with the Rays". In a related story, I dont have a pic of him as a Biscuit.




Izzy is rehabbing as Jose Lobaton checks his watch
Jason Isringhausen took a job as a pitching coach at an Illinois university. He had stated last year that he was likely to retire, and does so as the former Biscuit with the most major league saves. Four games were the extent of his appearances for Montgomery, four walks, two hits one earned run. No decision for him here but he retires with an even 300 Major League saves!




JAMES SHIELDS

Man, we liked Shields here! Not just for his witty comments, I wish I had access to the recordings of the pregame interviews he did with Jim Tocco - it was a comedy routine if you could cut through his Dizzy Dean-meets-surfer accent. If clubhouse hilarity is worth anything, I am sure Kansas City is getting more than just a boost to the starting rotation!

you can tell its 2004 - no tall sox plus the curved nameplate!
James got here in 2004 for an audition and then spent the majority of 2005 as a Biscuit. He made four starts for us in that inaugural April and was quickly sent back to Bakersfield. As bad as we were that year, I dont think anyone familiar with the team even noticed, you could stump the staff with the question "how many games did James Shields win for the Biscuits in his first season with us?" Answer = None.

2005 was much better for James the Biscuit. He went 7wins and 5 losses, an ERA in great shape with 2.80 and 104 punchouts in 109 innings. He was rewarded with one start for Durham late in the season as the Bulls headed into the playoffs and never came back. By the start of the next June he was in Tampa earning the nickname "Big Game" James. A significant upgrade from the 2004 nickname of "Panty" Shields that he got by losing his first four starts in Double-A.

Coco Crisp learns about James Shields "intangibles"





JAPAN VS HIROSHIMA
I saw the first game of the year already, and it was the same players as the last game I saw - NPB!
The Samurai Japan team was shut out by the Carp in a pre-season matchup highlighting some of my fave players on both teams. Kenta Maeda of the Carp is fun to watch pitching and 3b Shota Dobayashi is on par with any cornerman in the game at any level.

As for the opposition, Samurai Japan is simply awesome in spite of being shut out in what equates to the first spring training game of the year. CF Chono is quick and the protypical leadoff guy. Shinnosuke Abe is the cleanup hitter as well as the respected veteran catcher of Yomiuri Giants fame, fresh from the offseason after celebrating the Giants victory over the rest of the Nippon League. Yoshi Itoi and Sho Nakata also patrol the Samurai outfield, both excellent defenders and smart ballplayers. Up and down the lineup, its all about Japan league allstars and plus defenders.

The pitching staff is a dream machine that just needs to be tuned, and that job falls to the manager, who must have it tough with only a few short weeks to prepare.





And cheers to Brent Leach, if it werent for him these names would be as recognizable to me as alphabet soup. Im still waiting to see where Brent may head this spring.
However he has already gotten a mention in the LA Times this week, though not for his pitching or his excellent pickoff move.



Not trick photography, Leach is a BIG guy
In an instance of one lefty helping out another, current dodger Clayton Kershaw has been spotted wearing a shirt designed by the now-former Dodger lefty Leach. Of course its the color of Tommy Lasordas blood, one would expect no less on the Cy Young starter in Dodger camp, but the notable design is one of Brents fave Bible verses, Exodus 15:3 and the word "Warriors".

Brent is very open about his spiritual beliefs, as is Kershaw. There is sort of a fraternity of players at every level who share the bond of their beliefs and use it to motivate their lives. In a post coming up I will compare and contrast other players who are extroverted about their religious and spiritual beliefs, as I find it a deep topic in so many ways. Its not just as an athlete that they are motivated by their theological concepts, but in all aspects of life. And the wide diversity of beliefs is equally fascinating, as diverse as the people who play the game itself.

Just another reason to look forward to spring, then the game starts anew!



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