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Old 05-10-2007, 12:23 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Woohoo! Now I can doubly root for The Big Z! Go Dodgers!
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Old 05-11-2007, 09:34 AM   #22 (permalink)
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It took a few minutes of picture-taking time before folks realized that Andrew Zarzour still had on his well-worn Phillies cap. It had been practically glued to his head for years, so few took much notice of it. Dodger brass probably wouldn't want to see that in any newspaper coverage of one of their biggest signees, so it was eventually removed.

Andrew's mom was on that detail as well. She had prearranged for a sporting goods store from nearby Wake Forest to deliver hats from every Major League team to her house for the occasion. "Whichever team picks my son, we'll buy all those hats from you," she had said.

Soon, Mrs. Zarzour was pulling Dodger hats out of a back bedroom, putting them on her son and other family members, even Drew's best friends Brandon and Robbie. Some of the best pictures that newspaper photographers got were of the five smiling Zarzours all together in Dodger blue headgear -- the towering Andrew, his mom and dad, older sister Mary Katherine and younger brother Timmy, himself already over 6-0.

When newspaper reporters discovered that Timmy, at age 15, also played some sports for Bunn High, they turned some questions his way. "So are you going to be a 7-footer, too? Do you like baseball or basketball better? Are you better than your brother?"

Timmy just shrugged them off. "This is my big brother's day," he said, trying to keep a cheesy smile going for the photographers. "Plus, I'm going to be a rock star instead of a pro athlete..."
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Old 05-11-2007, 10:16 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Sunday, June 18, 1999

Another season of Great Falls baseball on deck
Dodgers' top three prospects will start careers in Montana

It's almost time for another season of Great Falls baseball.
The Dodgers of the Pioneer League will throw out the first pitch of the 1999 season on Tuesday, June 20 against the visiting Missoula Osprey.

Headlining this year's opening day lineup are recent draft picks Josh Hamilton (LF), Andrew Zarzour (LHP) and Josh Paul (C). Hamilton and Zarzour were playing high school ball just a few short weeks ago, virtually in the same neighborhood.

Hamilton was a star left-fielder and pitcher for Raleigh (N.C.) Athens Drive, which finished as the state Class 4A runner-up in 1998 and made it back to the state semifinals this season. Zarzour pitched for nearby Bunn (N.C.) High, a strong Class 1A team.

The two actually went head-to-head on the mound once this season, with Hamilton's Jaguars no-hitting Zarzour's Wildcats. A real cat-fight for sure, with Hamilton getting the only hits off Zarzour on the night.

Yes, it is true that Zarzour is taller than Randy Johnson, by several inches. Official Dodgers press material on Zarzour lists him at 7-foot-2. If he ever does make the Majors, he will be the tallest pitcher in league history. Imagine looking down on Randy Johnson.

With Hamilton and Paul powering the offense, and Zarzour projected as the No. 1 starter, the Rookie League Dodgers could be a force in the Pioneer League this season.

"We may not have these guys around for very long, however," said first-year Great Falls manager Tony Harris. "Zarzour, especially, could fast-track through our system, as we lack pitching depth down here on the farm."

Come on out to Legion Park for Opening Night. A fireworks celebration is planned after the game. The first 500 specatators will get free Great Falls posters. The first pitch is scheduled to go off at 7 p.m.

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Old 05-13-2007, 03:01 PM   #24 (permalink)
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From: AZarzour72@earthlink.net
Sent: Sunday, June 18 • 10:43 PM
To: ZarzourFamily99@earthlink.net
Subject: Can't wait to see you

Hi mom and dad, thanks for the phone call earlier this evening. It was great to hear your voices again, even though I haven't been gone that long. I didn't realize that we had talked for more than an hour. Hope I didn't run up your bill too much.

It was a great surprise to hear that you are coming here for Opening Day. I know I'm going to be nervous when I walk out there in the top of the first inning, but with you all in the stands, that will surely help. I'm glad Timmy could come, too, and I understand about Mary Katherine having to stay in North Carolina to work. Were you serious about Robbie coming with you guys? That would be cool. It's too bad he can't be my catcher, but we've got a couple of good ones on our team.

Anyways, like I said on the phone, you're going to be blown away by all the views here in Montana. It's nothing like the Blue Ridge Mountains or the mountains we drive through on our way to West Virginia to see your folks. I can see why they call this Big Sky Country. We're about 120 miles from Canada, so maybe all of you could scoot up there for a day or something. I can't wait to try to fly-fishing out there.

Well, guess I'd better get to bed now. This is a big week. Call me when you guys get in and I'll try to meet you before the game...

Love,
Andrew

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Old 05-13-2007, 03:09 PM   #25 (permalink)
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From: AZarzour72@earthlink.net
Sent: Sunday, June 18 • 10:51 PM
To: ZarzourFamily99@earthlink.net
Subject: Ooops, almost forgot

Hey, sorry I forgot to attach a few photos of Legion Field, home of the mighty Great Falls Dodgers! See you Tuesday...


Here's the view I'll have from the pitcher's mound. Of course, there should be lots of people (we hope) in the stands behind home plate



I believe this is where you guys will be sitting...



This is a view from the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center of the Missouri River. I wasn't able to stay long, but this is a pretty cool place near Great Falls...

Anyways, see you soon!

Andrew
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Old 05-13-2007, 09:05 PM   #26 (permalink)
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It was his gentlemanly way of saying, "No way, Jose!"
Letting you know I'm really enjoying your writing style and the idea behind this. I'll stay tuned.
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Old 05-14-2007, 10:39 AM   #27 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Robster49 View Post
Letting you know I'm really enjoying your writing style and the idea behind this. I'll stay tuned.
Thanks, Robster and others, for the kind comments. I've been wanting to do a dynasty like this for awhile, focusing one (or just a couple of players). I tried one a few years back but computer crashes and other factors resulted in its early death... Let's just hope Andrew's career pans out for awhile, though I do have a few ideas in mind if he doesn't make the Big Show...

A few other notes before I dive into actually playing games (yes, we are going to get to that, I promise):

• I imported with 1998 and just did a quick sim through the whole season for a little background. I then plugged Andrew Zarzour in for the upcoming 1999 draft. I didn't control any teams for the draft either, just letting "fate" pick Zarzour's path. I was pleased with the Dodgers nabbed him.

• I did tinker with a few things. For one I created Josh Hamilton. I realize that he's just now breaking into the Majors after a long bout with drugs and what-not. Since he's from my hometown of Raleigh, NC I thought I'd give him a shot in my world to take a different, hopefully clearner, path.

In my first newspaper job back in the late 1990s I got a chance to see Hamilton play a few times for Athens Drive High. I saw him pitch a no-hitter against one of the teams I covered in the state playoffs. Only three batters made contact with his pitches and nothing left the infield. I remember wondering why he didn't want to pursue pitching at the next level.

• Once the draft was over, I took over the Dodgers and plan to human manage them at least for awhile. I debated whether or not to just watch Zarzour's career play out, but I finally decided to get more involved. I did "prop up" the ratings of 26-year-old Dodgers catcher Paul Lo Duca a bit because I didn't think his ratings imported all that well.

Of course, again I'm biased. I covered his brother's high school baseball team during a four-year stint when I lived in Arizona and got to know the family a little bit. Paul was nice enough to give me an exclusive interview one night after getting traded from LA to the Marlins, when Florida was in Arizona to play the D-Backs.

• Let's see, a few other notes from 1998: Seattle actually won the '98 World Series (not the Yankees as I noted before, I'll go back and change that). The M's beat the Padres in the Series. The Yanks did have the best record in baseball for the year (112-50) but choked 4-2 against Seattle in the ALCS.

The Dodgers finished fourth in the NW West in 1998 (oh yeah, I randomized the draft order for '99 just to mix things up a bit. I promise that's the last 'tinkering' I plan to do) ... Mark McGwire hit 62 home runs, far and away the best in the Majors. Manny Ramirez and Jose Canseco had 57 each. Andres Galarraga had 51 for Atlanta. Samma Sosa hit 32.

Larry Walker of Colorado hit a blistering .423 in 1998 with 148 RBIs. Good grief. Then he signed a $20-million plus deal with the Red Sox!

Barry Bonds signed a mega five-year deal with ... the Toronto Blue Jays. He won't be playing with Canseco, however, because he got dealt to ... the Brewers...

OK, enough bombshells for now ... if anyone has questions about anything or wants updates on a player or team, just let me know... And away we go...
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Old 05-14-2007, 10:51 AM   #28 (permalink)
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Almost forgot, a few notes on the state of the Dodgers in 1999.

Here is their pitching rotation for the Big Club:
1. Darren Dreifort (15-13, 3.93 ERA in 1998)
2. Ramon Martinez (16-12, 3.50)
3. Chan Ho Park (12-12, 4.00)
4. Hideo Nomo (10-4, 4.30)
5. Ismael Valdes (10-10, 4.10)

Key Relievers: Scott Radinsky (4-6, 3.07 ERA, 39 saves in 1998), Antonio Osuna (2.34 ERA)

Catchers: Mike Piazza, Paul Lo Duca

Here are the rest of the Dodgers' 1999 draft picks:
Catcher Josh Paul ... Pitcher Erik Hiljus ... P Ryan Franklin ... P Dan Smith ... P Scott Sauerbeck ... 3B Cole Liniak ... SS Jason Dellaero.

Since I imported in 1998, the farm system for the Dodgers (and all teams, really) is pretty thin. That could help Zarzour's progression through the Minors... Maybe... Not a lot of pitching prospects ahead of him.
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Old 05-14-2007, 11:09 AM   #29 (permalink)
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Brandon!

Dude, what's up?!? Just sitting here late at night in my hotel room in Great Falls, Montana. It's beautiful country up here. You would not believe how well Drew pitched last night. He had like 16 strikeouts and didn't give up a run. I swear it was the best I've seen him pitch, ever.

Hope your college orientation is going well. How are the girls in Chapel Hill? I'll bet they aren't as hot as the girls at NC State. Haha. See you when I get back, man. Sorry you couldn't be here...

Robbie

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Old 05-14-2007, 11:17 AM   #30 (permalink)
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Nice start!


Wednesday, June 23, 1999

Big Z electric in professional debut
Great Falls' new 7-footer tosses three-hit complete game

GREAT FALLS -- If you're planning to come out to Legion Field this summer to catch a glimpse of the tallest player ever to suit up for the Great Falls Dodgers, you might want to hurry.

Andrew Zarzour may not be with us very long.

The 18-year-old recent draft pick, who stands a menacing 7-2, gave a Major League worthy performance in his professional debut. He threw a complete-game three-hitter, helping the Dodgers to a 4-0 win over the awestruck Missoula Osprey.

Zarzour fanned 16, including the last seven batters he faced. He threw his very first professional pitch to the backstop and then walked the leadoff batter. But from there, he was as a machine -- mowing down Osprey batters one after the other. The game only took 2:04 to complete.

"The dude's a freak," said Missoula catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who did not get one of the Osprey's three hits. "He's huge and then he comes hurtling at you. I felt like David with no slingshot going against Goliath."

While his size is Goliath-like, Zarzour is anything but a menacing presence off the field. He's a gentle giant, who hugs him mom when he sees her after the game and is shy about giving autographs to kids. He talks about fishing and is wide-eyed whenever he's asked about his impressions of Big Sky Country. He ate Fruit Loops for breakfast and watched cartoons before the game. His mom had to tell him to tie his shoes before warm-ups.

Zarzour took his first plane trip just a few short weeks ago when he first met his new Dodger teammates in Florida at the club's spring training complex.

"I had only set foot in six different states before this month," he said. "We go to Virginia and West Virginia a few times a year to visit family. We always take a week's vacation at Myrtle Beach (in South Carolina), and then I went to Florida and Georgia for a couple of summer baseball tournaments after my junior year of high school. That's it for traveling, until now."

If Zarzour's career continues on the path he's started out on, Big Z could be a world traveler over the coming years. His next start will be in five days against the Helena Brewers. There, he'll get first taste of an opposing ballpark...

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Old 05-15-2007, 11:38 AM   #31 (permalink)
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Monday, June 28, 1999

Brewers pounce on Dodgers early, often
Zarzour only makes it four innings in first loss

HELENA -- Well, Andrew Zarzour is human after all.

The 7-2 left-handed pitcher for the Great Falls Dodgers, who enjoyed a sterling professional debut last week, got rocked by the Helena Brewers on Sunday night.

Zarzour lasted just 4.1 innings in his first road start, gave up 10 hits and allowed six runs -- all earned -- in a wild 16-9 loss to the Pioneer League's Brew Crew. Zarzour did strike out eight and only allowed one walk but lacked his pinpoint control, and maybe a bit of the velocity, that marked his complete-game three-hitter against Missoula last week.

Helena continued wreaking havoc after Zarzour exited, scoring 10 more runs. The Dodgers had a big night at the plate as well, led by rookie left-fielder Josh Hamilton's three hits and two RBIs. But they got behind early and never could dig all the way out.

"I just didn't have my stuff," Zarzour said. "I feel bad for letting my teammates down. They had enough offense to get us a win but I didn't come through..."

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Old 05-15-2007, 03:51 PM   #32 (permalink)
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Ring, ring, ring:

Hey hey, you've reached Andrew Zarzour's cell phone. Sorry I can't take your call right now. I'm either at the ball park, out fishing, hanging with my fellow Dodgers or enjoying my new surroundings here in Montana. Please leave a message and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.


Hi son, this is Dad. You better be at the ball park right now, as you're slated to pitch in a few hours. I just wanted to talk to you about our trip back out to Montana. Your uncle was gracious enough to give us his timeshare week and we found a pretty cool place on short notice that's going to be pretty near where you are. The way I see it, we'll be there for two of the games where you are pitching.

Don't worry about having to entertain us or anything. Mom and I will be fine. We've never seen this part of the country before and we plan to do a lot of sightseeing. Guess we'll get to see Billings because that's where one of your games is going to be. We might head up to Canada as well.

Anyways, give us a call when you get a chance. Good luck tonight. We're proud of you and will be following your performance tonight on that Internet game tracker thingie you showed us. Go get 'em, tiger.

Click.
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Old 05-15-2007, 03:54 PM   #33 (permalink)
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This is really a fun read. Great work, AZTarHeel.
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Old 05-15-2007, 04:07 PM   #34 (permalink)
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Raleigh, NC • July 7, 1999

Area Players in the Minors

Josh Hamilton (Raleigh/Athens Drive High School '99)
Batting .485 for Class A Great Falls (Dodgers) ... has hit three home runs ... has recorded 10 RBIs...

Andrew Zarzour (Bunn/Bunn High School '99)
Has pitched in four games for Class A Great Falls (Dodgers), compiling a 2-2 record and a 2.79 ERA ... 29.0 innings pitched, 23 hits allowed, 50 strikeouts, 3 walks, 9 earned runs ... pitched 7.1 innings in his most recent outing July 6 against Butte Copper Kings, giving up 3 hits, 0 runs, 0 walks, with 15 strikeouts...

(Author's note: wow and wow on how these two guys are doing...)
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Old 05-15-2007, 10:54 PM   #35 (permalink)
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This is really a fun read. Great work, AZTarHeel.
Thanks, ifspuds, some good news brewing for our gentle giant (and Josh Hamilton as well)...

Stay tuned...
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Old 05-16-2007, 11:28 AM   #36 (permalink)
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Movin' on up!

Ring, ring, ring

You have reached the Zarzour residence and Zarzour Farms. Sorry we can't take your call right now but please leave us a message and we'll try our best to get back to you as quickly as we can. Have a blessed day. Beep

Mom, dad, are you there? Pick up, pick up! Hello?

Oh well, it's me. I got your message about the time share. I have some good news and bad news on that front. The bad news is that if you come to Montana that week, you won't be able to see me pitch at all. The good news is that I will be pitching sometime in the next few days for ... the San Antonio Missions, the Dodgers' Double A club.

Me and Josh got promoted! We're pumped. Oh well, I guess I'll have to tell you all about it later on. Give me a call back when you get the chance. Hey, Timmy. Hope you're doing well, man. Can't wait to see you again, little brother...

Click
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Old 05-17-2007, 01:01 PM   #37 (permalink)
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AZTarHeel,

I just found your dynasty and I'm really glad I did. I really enjoy your writing style, and you have a great story to tell. Add me to the growing list of Andrew Zarzour fans.

Thanks very much for your tribute to my Pat O'Farrell dynasty. If you don't mind, I'll return the favor with a Zarzour family reference or two.

Good luck with your dynasty, and good luck to the Big Z!
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Old 05-17-2007, 01:23 PM   #38 (permalink)
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AZTarHeel,

I just found your dynasty and I'm really glad I did. I really enjoy your writing style, and you have a great story to tell. Add me to the growing list of Andrew Zarzour fans.

Thanks very much for your tribute to my Pat O'Farrell dynasty. If you don't mind, I'll return the favor with a Zarzour family reference or two.

Good luck with your dynasty, and good luck to the Big Z!
Wow, thanks for those kind words ... For some reason it took me until a month or so ago before I started reading your Pat O'Farrell story. Once I started, though, I couldn't stop (though I'm still not completely caught up yet). I like your writing style as well and the way you bring the characters the life. Keep up the good work -- and thanks for stopping by!

AZ
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Old 05-17-2007, 02:12 PM   #39 (permalink)
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Andrew Zarzour was greeted like a hero by San Antonio media and fans when he arrived in mid-July 1999. The headline in the San Antonio Express-News proclaimed him the Missions' new "Texas-Sized Prospect."

The 7-2 left-hander was amazed that NBA Finals MVP Tim Duncan was among the "dignitaries" attending the first press function welcoming Zarzour and LF Josh Hamilton to the Dodgers' Double A franchise. Duncan, whose San Antonio Spurs had just beaten the Knicks 4-1 for the NBA championship, pretended that he was there to greet a new teammate for the Spurs. He had a special Spurs basketball jersey for Zarzour, with the No. 72 and Zarzour's name on the back.

"Welcome to the Spurs," he said, trying to keep a straight face. "Man, you are tall. I could use some help in the post next season, so I'm glad you're here. Maybe we can repeat as champs."

Everyone got a good laugh out of the made-for-TV-cameras moment, especially when the meek Zarzour, off-the-cuff, joked that Duncan "looked bigger on TV." The 18-year-old turned as red as a sun-baked Texas ranchhand as soon as the comments came out of his mouth.

The only one not enjoying the playful moment it seemed was Josh Hamilton. He was a bit miffed that much of the attention was being focused on Zarzour and not him, or at least the both of them together. He had batted .485 (!!) during his month-long stay in Great Falls and still people were treating him like he was the boy assigned to carry Zarzour's bags.

Hamilton lashed out about the "lack of proper focus on what really mattered" when he finally did speak to a few reporters and said he wondered if the "freak show" that accompanies Zarzour wherever he goes was good for the team and the franchise. Then, he bolted from the scene.

Zarzour's playful demeanor faded quickly the next morning when he picked up the paper to read about the growing "rift" between the Dodgers' two North Carolina prospects and read Hamilton's somewhat harsh comments...

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Old 05-24-2007, 04:58 PM   #40 (permalink)
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Mom and Dad,

Hey, it's Andrew. I found this article on the Sporting News Web site. They mention me! I haven't heard too much about the situation they describe below involving me. My coaches keep telling me just to focus on my next start and getting better. But then they always remind me to be ready for anything.

Love you guys.

Drew




All-Star Break Report
Dodgers hold tenuous NL West lead

July 15, 1999

Code:
NL West Standings

Team	  Record	GB

Los Angeles	46-35	--
San Diego	40-41	6.0
Colorado	37-44	9.0
Arizona  	34-47	12.0
San Francisco	32-49	14.0
Back in March, we predicted an NL West division title for the Los Angeles Dodgers. While no team really jumped out at us as the front-runner, we believed the boys in Dodger blue had the weaponry to pull away from the rest of what is otherwise a middling group.

Sure enough, that is what has transpired during the first half of the season. For awhile, the division looked like a runaway. The Dodgers built a 12- to 15-game cushion in May and June. But a baseball season is a marathon, and the Dodgers have cooled quite a bit from their hot start. They are now just six games in front of a San Diego squad that could make things interesting over the back half of the season.

Mike Piazza, who is requesting a long term contract (for mucho bucks) to stay in LA, has been playing like a man in the midst of a contract year. He's batting a fierce .348. But no one else has been as solid behind the plate. In fact, no one else is batting better than .300.

Pitching has been a positive point for the Dodgers, but again many in the bullpen have begun coming back down to earth after great starts. Ramón Martinez started the year like a Cy Young candidate, blazing through May with a 5-0 record and earning Pitcher of the Month honors. His 11-3 record and 3.19 ERA at this point are still stellar, though he's shown some wear over the last month.

That will be the big key for the Dodgers maintaining their edge in the NL West — can the pitching rotation hold up? Injuries have begun cropping up in several places. Reliever Antonio Osuna is lost for the year with a shoulder injury. Closer Scott Radinsky has complained of soreness, though he hasn't missed much time yet.

A serious injury to a starter could be devastating, as Dodgers brass don't feel they really have anyone else Major League ready in their farm system. Would the Dodgers reach into Double A and grab their 18-year-old, 7-foot-2 prospect Andrew Zarzour should they need more arms for a pennant run?

The Dodgers have been trying to protect their prized draft pick and bring him along at a normal clip. But they also think he could make an impact on the Big Club before he's old enough to (legally) buy alcohol.

More than likely LA would snap up an old veteran starter who is currently looking for work — like they did with 38-year-old reliever John Franco back in June — before turning to a kid who hasn't yet had the chance to exercise his right to vote. But being in a playoff chase can make you do strange things.

The Dodgers' biggest trade thus far this season was designed to shore up the defense and a little more pep at the back of the hitting lineup. So far new shortstop Edgar Renteria hasn't done much with his bat but he's been much more reliable on the infield than Alex Cora. Scouts believe the 23-year-old has a nice future ahead of him, so much so they were willing to trade away catching prospect Josh Paul to get him from Florida...


More Notes at the 1999 All-Star Break:
• Other division leaders right now -- Atlanta 56-25 (up 15 on Expos) … Cincy 50-31 (up three on Cards) … Yanks 48-33 (up three on Red Sox) … White Sox 44-37 (up three on Twins) … Seattle (49-32 up one on Anaheim)

Sammy Sosa leads the home run race in the NL with 28. Mark McGwire has 26. Texas' Juan Gonzales leads the Majors with 29...

Josh Hamilton is batting .307 for LA's Double A team in San Antonio at the All-Star break. He's hit four HRs and has 16 RBIs...

• The Dodgers started July 1-6... Yikes!

• One author's note: Importing in 1998 didn't really give me a lot of time to build each team's farm system. So basically, thanks to the injury bug, there really isn't much between Zarzour and the Big Club in terms of "real" (non ghost) players. Maybe one or two guys are ahead of him. That could be present some interesting scenarios if more pitchers go down in July, August or September...
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