Yes, very little has happened.
Well, some things have happened but there have been big spaces between, so it seems that way.
Former Skitz landing jobs in new locations also include Cole Figueroa, Hak Ju Lee, Matt Lollis, Reifenhauser and some guy named David Price.
HARDER TO HOMER AT WAHOOS PARK
The Wahoos have rented their park to a football team in the offseason and a by product is that the fences have been moved. After re-naming the ballpark from Pensacola BayFront Stadium to Blue Wahoos Stadium, they named the playing surface separately as Fetterman Field. Now we learn the left field fence have been shoved nearly 20 feet farther from home plate.
At a whopping 342 feet down the left field line, it will put a serious damper on right handed pull hitters ability to send home runs over the wall. Pensacola just became a pitchers park!
The footprint of the league may be in flux over the next couple seasons. Here is a look at the cities who want in (and out) of the league.
Dothan wants MiLB and have begun their study on bringing a team.
New Orleans is rumored to be on the way back to the Southern League.
Macon Ga wants back in baseball and has begun to survey what they can do to lure a team. They have signed checks to do the survey and local fans seem as though they would support a team if the right affiliation was made. They miss their Braves.
Jackson Ms wants a team and has hired the crew who brought Biloxi a team to help them. Somehow the city doesn't think the Ms.Braves are local enough to Jackson? Maybe they know something we dont?
Huntsville has some city leaders who would like a team, but residents are mostly opposed. Efforts to get MiLB back would not pass a vote, yet they have a vocal supporter in newspaper writer Mark McCarter. The media man has been outspoken about the towns need for baseball and at times been downright overbearing about its place in league history. The Rocket City may get another team, but it will not be soon.
Jacksonville is on the way to triple-A now that the Bragan family isn't there to keep it from happening. The Marlins would probably love to have their triple-A team closer to home.
Jackson Tn barely supports its team and the Mariners would probably not mind moving to new digs. The current agreement between the two was last minute and not cheerfully reached. A marriage of convenience or necessity more than true love.
Mobile is hemmed in by new parks and in need of serious ballpark upgrade. The City and Baybears ownership has feuded in the past and may not be getting along now - for fans its obvious the writing is on the wall for "The Hank". Perhaps a pennant contending team would stave off the move, but fans of the longtime SL club must be waiting for the axe to drop.
BIG LEAGUE ANNOUNCEMENT!
With so many teams in the gray area, I was eager as the Southern League tweeted its "Big News Announcement", however it turned out to be just a change in logo. Come on, SL office, a new logo is NOT a big deal. Duh.
|I still say "Devil Rays" too|
BORTNICK BACK IN AUSTRALIA
Former Biscuit infielder and blog fave Tyler Bortnick appears on the ABL rosters again this winter. He was with the Jackson Generals in the second half of the 2015 season and made a return to Riverwalk in August.
I had a chance at that time to speak with Tyler about Australia and the baseball experience there.
Like most players who I have talked with about the Australian Baseball league, Borty was all smiles about it. He said the game wasn't as popular there as other sports but that the fans were eager and really got into the game. He told me the parks were smaller, on par with the average college fields here, but that they were well maintained and that the game seemed to be growing in popularity there.
Tyler said he was always interested in international competition, he particuarly enjoyed the chance to experience life in a distant country. Even better was not having to speak another language.
The odd part was not seeing winter, ever. When we spoke in August, he had been having summer for just about 18 months. Now he will bypass most of another winter. However he said that, being from Ohio, not having snow to shovel didn't hurt his feelings at all.
Tyler was intrigued when I told him that there were rules changes that would allow ABL teams to carry more than four foreign players.
Returning players won't be counted against the total, but it may require a third season before kicking in and the now free-agent Bortnick is there for just his second. I believe that means next winter he could play there and be rostered without counting against other Americans, which would be attractive to Australian teams that want a veteran 2b without giving up a roster spot to a younger affiliated prospect.
|In 2015 the Gens relied on the power of prayer|
In that series, Tyler Bortnick appeared to us to be the only guy on the Generals showing up at gametime, he had such a great series at Riverwalk he won Southern League Player of the Week. The next day he was handed his release.
It was obvious he was making the other guys look bad.
Former BayBears skipper Andy Green was hired to manage the Dbax. So not only players are prospects, you could be seeing the next manager of your fave MLB team!
Teams are announcing their coaching assignments, though the Rays always wait until ten minutes before spring camp starts to let us know who they will send here.
Chattanooga will retain its manager, Doug Mientkiewicz but get new coaches in Tommy Watkins (hitting) and Ivan Arteaga (pitching).
Watkins is a former bigleaguer with the Twins and, more recently, the subject of the "Tom Watkins Bobble-Butt" giveaway in 2003. Yes, I would not make that up, even though I have suggested BobbleButts for Biscuit SGAs in the past.
In Jackson Tn the Generals have a new field commander as Daren Brown takes the helm. He will try to make it thru the entire season, last year the Gens made a midseason switch when hitting coach Roy Howell took over the team around the allstar break.
Howell will return to his duties as hitting coach and pitching instruction will be handled by Andrew Lorraine. Lorraine played for seven MLB teams including the Cubs and Sox, also spending a season pitching in Taiwan.