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Old 05-10-2016, 04:10 PM   #1841
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I gotta suspect that somewhere deep down in his Mexican residence of decadence, Carlosito had a stroke late in the season. Despite the Raccoons ultimately failing on all accounts, he increased our budget from $24.2M to $26M, which is actually the biggest increase in recent years, even bigger than when we were actually playing .600 ball.

Carlosito also advised me that the Raccoons needed to increase their batting average and that I was supposed to look for players in that direction, and dump Craig Bowen. Say! First, someone tell the ****ing flies Matt Pruitt hits to ****ing fall into the field somewhere, and second, Carlosito, have you ever sold a thoroughly dead horse?

A thoroughly dead horse that was going to gnaw through $1.88M worth of hay for another four years, at that. Yes, that’s an annual value. Say what you want, he led the team in home runs. (fakes a pitiful grin)

In terms of the other teams in the league, the Raccoons now rank 11th with their budget. The Crusaders still lead the world in blowable money with $37M under their belt, and they sure knew how to use it. They were followed by the Cyclones ($34M), Thunder ($33M), Titans ($31.5M), and Pacifics ($30.5M). The other teams in the CL North ranked 8th (VAN, $27.8M), 9th (IND, $27.2M), and 24th (MIL, $17M). There were six teams with budgets under $20M, including half the CL South and the Rebels and Wolves.

We weren’t in a good spot moneywise, yet. A first glimpse at even the enlarged budget showed that we only had $1M to play with, less than what was left of the 2011 budget. There were a number of escalating contracts on the books, but chiefly to blame was that Adrian Quebell played for $830k in 2011, and now was to make $1.61M annually through 2016. Plus, a good number of personnel throughout the organization left the building, including longtime pitching coach Pancho Padilla, 67, who went home fishing. And the market on pitching coaches was pretty thin… The major league vacancy was filled by the Alley Cats’ pitching coach for the last five years, 51-year old Venezuelan Edmondo Zanelli, while we looked for replacements at the lower levels.

There was still an item on the list of expenses that was going to come off. We would non-tender Jong-hoo Umberger, who dropped off completely in his age 33 season, and received a chainsaw treatment to his ratings by head scout Juan Calderón. That would free up $1.8M for 2012, his second-to-last year of team control. He was a good soldier for a few years, but some risks we cannot take, at least not until Craig Bowen has plunged into the Willamette and we have collected insurance.

Which really brings us swiftly to the list of arbitration-eligible players, of which there were a whopping dozen, and a single free agent. The latter is quickly dealt with. It’s MR Ricardo Huerta, who posted a 4.70 ERA in his age 37 season and didn’t have the stuff anymore that made him a great pitcher on a bad team in the mid-2000s. He was not compensation eligible, so no draft picks for us this year.

Here are the 12 arbitration-eligible players along with their 2011 stats, service time, 2011 salary, and 2012 estimate:

SP Colin Baldwin, 29 – 14-10, 3.20 ERA, 154 K – 4.029 - $350k - $550k
SP Bill Conway, 26 – 15-11, 3.39 ERA, 141 K – 3.106 – minimum - $240k
SP Jong-hoo Umberger, 33 – 8-11, 3.68 ERA, 84 K – 4.000 - $1.45M - $1.84M
MR Kyle Mullins, 29 – 1-1, 3.68 ERA – 3.040 - $254k - $280k
MR Joe O’Brian, 28 – 2-0, 3.27 ERA – 5.098 - $300k - $340k
C Travis Owens, 32 - .246/.333/.373, 4 HR, 14 RBI – 3.000 - $166k - $240k
INF Manuel Gutierrez, 31 - .250/.282/.333, 1 HR, 15 RBI, 2 SB – 4.169 - $250k - $280k
INF Michael Palmer, 29 - .260/.323/.309, 5 HR, 46 RBI, 7 SB – 4.114 - $406k - $450k
LF/1B Matt Pruitt, 28 - .228/.283/.325, 9 HR, 58 RBI, 1 SB – 4.167 - $400k - $450k
OF Santiago Trevino, 29 - .263/.333/.316, 0 HR, 2 RBI – 4.028 - $252k - $280k
OF Pat White, 28 - .175/.213/.202, 0 HR, 9 RBI, 4 SB – 2.125 – minimum - $240k
RF/LF Keith Ayers, 30 - .227/.275/.377, 8 HR, 35 RBI – 4.028 - $230k - $260k

That is quite the collection there…

Well, we covered Umberger, who goes. Easy decisions can also be made on Baldwin, Conway, Palmer, and Pruitt. All four stay, and we might want to get the first two to sign team-friendly 3- or 4-year deals. Palmer is not a long-term solution, I feel, while Pruitt was so unlucky in 2011, that it is a miracle he didn’t knock himself a batted ball into the naughty zone.

We got early agreements with a few other players than those coveted starting pitchers, though. Still in October we got three 1-year deals signed. Manuel Gutierrez signed for $275k, Travis Owens for $250k, and Michael Palmer for $470k. Palmer was the only one who was offered a 2-year deal, which he rejected. Pat White signed for $232k early in November, also a 1-year deal.

In early November we also agreed to multi-year deals on multiple players.

Bill Conway and Colin Baldwin both signed their team-friendly medium-term deals, in both cases covering their arbitration years and one year of free agency at a quite low cost. Conway agreed to 4-yr, $2.8M, starting with $400k in ’12 and adding $200k every year, while Baldwin’s 3-yr, $2.4M contract basically ignores just the first step and starts at $600k right away. These two along with Nick Brown and the minimum-making Hector Santos are already a good rotation. Now you could get a beast of a #2 starter for about $2.5M, which is a problem for the Raccoons as long as Craig Bowen is on their checkbooks, or you could try to find another Conway/Baldwin type misfiled in some Federal League teams’ long relief department.

Also, don’t you think their names would be more awesome if they were Colin Conway and Bill Baldwin?

Keith Ayers also signed a multi-year deal, two years for $600k total. This does not include a year of free agency. This might also be a mistake on the cheap side if he somehow gets into a significant role (doesn’t look like it now, but the offseason is long, and Tomas Castro is injured all the time…) and does break out at some point. He DID make it to a tie for fifth place in home runs on the ’11 Coons despite only getting a third of a season’s worth of at-bats.

That left Mullins, O’Brian, Trevino, and Pruitt as the calendar flipped over into actual arbitration week. Matt Pruitt signed a $460k deal for 2012 four days before the deadline. By then I had also made up my mind on O’Brian, who would cost quite a bit of money to watch him walk people, so he was non-tendered. Mullins and Trevino would go to arbitration, where they were offered $290k apiece, which they both received.


Other news as the offseason begins:

While the World Series was in progress still, Jason Seeley was declared healthy and came off the 60-day DL. He had to be put back on the 40-man roster, from where Tommy Ward was waived and designated for assignment. He went unclaimed, as did outfielder Pete Schipper, who was dropped from the 40-man roster to get Tomas Castro back on at the start of the offseason. Since getting 73 AB of .783 OPS with the 2009 Coons, Schipper has batted under .210/.310/.300 for two years in AAA and is not worth bothering with anymore. He made $452k thanks to a grenade hitting the table where our outfielders played cards at in ’09, which is about $451k more than the average last-rounder makes.

A few notable players elected retirement, including Daniel Richardson, who had the second-worst year of his 17-year career with the Raccoons in 2000, Jesus Bautista, who pitched for the Titans for a number of years, and Dan Morris, the career home run leader with 408 dingers over 20 years.

The first mildly, vaguely relevant trade was made on November 9, when the Titans got MR Melvin Andrade (8-10, 5.67 ERA, 2 SV) from the Wolves, a 25-year old righty, for two middling prospects.



Player of the Year: LAP LF/CF Jimmy Roberts (.315, 28 HR, 102 RBI) and NYC LF Martin Ortíz (.311, 33 HR, 121 RBI)
Pitcher of the Year: LAP SP Brad Smith (15-7, 2.54 ERA) and OCT SP Antonio Donis (16-8, 2.74 ERA)
Rookie of the Year: WAS 3B Jesus Soto (.314, 13 HR, 71 RBI) and MIL OF Philip Locke (.274, 17 HR, 99 RBI)
Reliever of the Year: WAS CL Tommy Wooldridge (7-5, 2.12 ERA, 40 SV) and VAN CL Pedro Alvarado (2-3, 1.44 ERA, 38 SV)
Platinum Sticks (FL): P DAL Paul Miller, C DAL Dylan Alexander, 1B DAL Dennis Berman, 2B SAL Alberto Rodriguez, 3B WAS Jesus Soto, SS PIT Tom McWhorter, LF RIC Earl Clark, CF LAP Jimmy Roberts, RF CIN Will Bailey
Platinum Sticks (CL): P VAN Rod Taylor, C IND Jose Paraz, 1B VAN Ray Gilbert, 2B NYC Francisco Caraballo, 3B LVA Francisco Soto, SS OCT Emilio Farias, LF NYC Martin Ortíz, CF SFB Jasper Holt, RF NYC Stanton Martin
Gold Gloves (FL): P DAL Victor Scott, C SAL Miguel Torres, 1B SAL Frederic Roche, 2B WAS Jose Correa, 3B NAS Antonio Esquivel, SS DAL Armando Rodriguez, LF PIT Brian MacNamara, CF RIC Victor Enriquez, RF RIC Winston Jones
Gold Gloves (CL): P BOS Mauro Castro, C LVA Eduardo Durango, 1B POR Adrian Quebell, 2B CHA Daniel Silva, 3B TIJ Dan Jones, SS POR Michael Palmer, LF NYC Martin Ortíz, CF NYC Roberto Pena, RF NYC Stanton Martin

Brownie and Angel both finished in the top 3 in their respective categories.


It’s November 16. Jong-hoo Umberger is gone after going 58-32 with a 3.10 ERA and 542 K in his four seasons in Portland. I’d say, $4.5M for that was not too much. It was some good fun while it lasted.

After also dumping O’Brian and dropping Schipper and Ward off the 40-man roster, the Raccoons open offseason proper with about $3.2M in budget space.

Oh, there are some juicy Japanese international free agents on the market…
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Last edited by Westheim; 05-10-2016 at 04:12 PM.
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Old 05-11-2016, 05:35 PM   #1842
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With the roster cleaned for the moment, this was a good time to look at the mess we had at hand and try to plan around it.

Starting with the rotation there was the ace that just happened to be physically unable to pitch in June and July in Nick Brown, and we had just signed Colin Baldwin and Bill Conway to moderately expensive extensions. In fact, I am in love with these two contracts, which should be ridiculously team-friendly over their duration. You know, unless they both just lost it over the winter. Happens. Seen it before.

There was also Hector Santos, who was not arbitration eligible until after the 2013 season and a free agent after 2016. It’s so far quite hard to figure him out. His 2010 debut was a mess, although it’s likely that the elbow that was about to blow out was already hampering him then. He made ten starts after recovering in 2011, and while most stats were better than before Tommy John surgery, his strikeouts actually went down by almost two per nine innings. His entire major league career, however, consists of only 85 innings, so it’s perhaps uncalled for to read too much into these tiny sample sizes.

Ignoring Gil McDonald, who came apart quite badly late in the 2011 season, there is an open slot in the rotation, with three guys in AAA to watch in Brendan Teasdale, Greg Dodson, and Rich Hood. Dodson is 29 and an injury-replacement innings-eater at best, while Teasdale is 27 and still hasn’t won a major league game. Hood is 24, and was decent in St. Pete this year, but nobody’s raving about him. So it looks like it’s McDonald after all, except you might want to improve that slot…

The bullpen is a bit of a mess, a collection of pitchers nobody loves and that don’t do well – except for Angel Casas of course. Our assumed setup men are Ron Thrasher, who had over four walks per nine innings in ’11, and Law Rockburn, who made it only into 37 games for 29.2 innings due to injury and when he was available, he performed sloppily. Rockburn will be in a contract year in ’12. Carlosito expects him to get an extension.

Behind those three, it gets even worse. We headed into the offseason with six more relievers still on the expanded roster, of which I was not keen on seeing either on the Opening Day roster. Pat Slayton, Kyle Mullins, Ted Reese, Josh Gibson, Sergio Vega from the right side, George Youngblood from the left side. Well, Slayton was quite effective in the long man role in 2010, and we might look into that again, but the others have been just wholly underwhelming, in Vega’s case for almost a decade. By my estimate, we have placed Sergio Vega on waivers about seven times over the years, and he’s STILL here. He’s like that eggplant salad at a new-age all-you-can-eat that everybody gobbles their way around, but the restaurant is billing for it anyway.

We’re also getting billed for a fabulously exotic blowfish that is madly poisonous and donning a catcher’s gear four out of five games. Craig Bowen is due another $7.52M over four years, and it’s going to be hard to find a team Dadaesque enough to voluntarily jump into the meat grinder and take Craig Bowen from us in a trade. The backup options Travis Owens and Tom McNeela are equally unproductive, but at least they are cheaper than bread.

There aren’t very many questions as far as the infield is concerned. I consider it unlikely that anything will change about the Merritt – Palmer – Nomura – Quebell setup this winter, although it is yet hard to say just how much value there is remaining in Jon Merritt’s deal. He’s due another $3.75M total through 2014. We certainly have no replacement internally. Quebell is also aboard long-term, with the frustrating thing being that Yoshi Nomura’s team-friendly contract runs out in 2013, when he’ll be just 29, but a 10-year veteran regardless. I shiver at the thought of trying to work out a way to extend him.

The outfield is where we finally arrive in that area in the fridge where the smell is the worst. We currently have nine outfielders on the 40-man roster, and not a single one of them is helping us with anything. Well, okay, Matt Pruitt batted for a .241 BABIP in 2011, so his .228/.283/.325 slash in ’11 doesn’t have a lot of weight to it. He shouldn’t have turned down the advances of that gypsy girl in training camp before the season, though. His career OPS is .746, and his career BABIP is .303, just under league average. While not impressive, and certainly not Hall of Fame material, it is an indicator of what he can do when he is not ritually recursed at every full moon by that gypsy girl’s family. There is also an abnormal hair growth on his back…

Beyond that there are some end-20s no-goods, like Pat White, Santiago Trevino, Brett Gentry, and Jerry Saenz, some of which can at least play defense, but none of which has ever hit very well in the majors, in some cases, even in the minors. Keith Ayers does not fall into that category, as he’s not an end-20s no-good. He’s a 30-year old no-good with a career .701 OPS. Still better than Trevino’s .587 though. Between these five, there’s an option for a defensive centerfielder (Trevino) in there, and Keith Ayers could be a platoon mate for a young left-handed batter – or for ****’s sake for Pruitt. He’ll likely platoon up with Jason Seeley, though, who, with his ankle unsprained, should start the season on the major league roster, but has to show more than that .735 OPS in 218 PA in ’11. He’s 25 years old. It’s go time. Jimmy Fucito hit rather selectively in a late-season callup he wasn’t supposed to get, and might be better off starting in AAA, and then there’s the curious case of Tomas Castro.

Castro was one of two pieces we received from the Stars in June of 2006 for Edgar “Fat Cat” Amador and Christian Greenman, the other piece being the charred corpse of Angel Romero, who made four starts before getting canned. Castro hit some the rest of ’06, then appeared in 161 games and hit 19 homers with a .321/.356/.482 slash in 2007. For that, he got a 5-yr, $4.4M contract. Four years later, he’s missed almost 50 games on average per year, hitting 29 homers total, and dropping his OPS from that 2007 mark of .838 to .772 in 2008 and .652 by 2010. He trended upwards ever so slightly in ’11 partly because he couldn’t possibly get worse and mainly because he had a .339 BABIP. He’s getting paid a princely $1.2M in ’12 for being a wildly subpar batter on a position he can’t field (career -2.1 ZR in CF), although his fielding shortcomings are mitigated by him being constantly injured, and as we’re on it, he’s going to nurse and rehab a torn labrum well into the new year, whatever that is going to do to his already soft and cushy arm. His potential claim to fame at one point might be his ability to swipe bags. He’s currently 67th all time in stolen bases with 166, coincidentally more than all other players on our roster COMBINED.

Normally I’d say, Castro gets dumped for the most miniscule return to free up centerfield for Jason Seeley and we find someone to sew together with Ayers for a rightfield platoon. But Castro is injured and might well remain injured until late January, so he can not be traded until everybody has spent all their coins.


It’s really hard to make a list right now, but generally we need a strong starting pitcher to add to Brown, Baldwin, Conway, and Santos, and I wouldn’t be averse to a slugging switch-hitting rightfielder with good defense and some speed. He should also be young, born in the sign of either Virgo or Libra, and be friendly to the cats.

There was no such player, of course.


That catcher’s spot was a sore one on the roster. Craig Bowen’s slash since returning from Nashville (.258/.313/.353) was outright ugly. Looking into trading him was about the first thing I did at the start of the offseason, but no team was even remotely inclined of bothering with him.

Well, there was a way to make this team even more ridiculous than it was. Rather than paying Bowen $1.88M a year to be a completely pathetic primary catcher, we could also pay him $1.88M a year to be a completely pathetic, but rarely seen backup catcher. But the market for free agent catchers was soft at best, and at worst it was full of ex-Raccoons nobody desired to touch with a stick. That last one was actually true. From Mark Thomas to Freddy Rosa to Julio Mata, every possible late-90s, early-00s Raccoons catcher nightmare was looking or employment. So an improvement had to come in a trade. Of course, our new catcher shouldn’t cost too much, since, well, we’re still paying the old one a fortune or two.

Looking for a catcher led we to the Stars, where Dylan Alexander had just finished second in Rookie of the Year voting and had taken an All Star nomination and a Platinum Stick. The Stars had a good offense, but their pitching was in complete disarray. They were looking for arms hard and weren’t all that picky. Alexander was more a power than a contact guy, but was a good gamer behind the plate as well. The Stars were looking for a package including Brendan Teasdale (SURE! SURE! SURE!!) and … #31 prospect Cameron McSweeney.

McSweeney had been the main prize when we had shaved Logan Taylor and Rob Howell off the roster in July. Juan Calderón was not too high on him, but OSA and BNN had him quite high up in terms of prospects. This was a tough call. Dylan Alexander – not quite a ROTY – principally had much of the same skill set that Craig Bowen had. He just had to get a little worse and lose all contact ability, and then we’d have it. McSweeney had been clubbed to a 4.86 ERA in single-A ball between the Cyclones’ and our single-A affiliates, but he would not turn 21 until May.

Ah, here comes the brainlock.
Portland Raccoons, 55 years of excell-.... of baseball: Furballs here!
1983 * 1989 * 1991 * 1992 * 1993 * 1995 * 1996 * 2010 * 2017 * 2018 * 2019 * 2026 * 2028
: 2 POWELL : 8 REECE : 10 BROWN : 15 HALL : 28 CASAS : 32 WEST : 46 SAITO

Resident Mets Cynic

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Old 05-12-2016, 01:47 AM   #1843
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Random stat: Opposing batters’ OPS (OBOPS?) in 2011

1st – POR Nick Brown - .561
2nd – NYC Takeru Sato - .563
3rd – LAP Brad Smith - .590
4th – SAL Max Shepherd - .601
5th – POR Colin Baldwin - .617


To deal or not to deal?

Striving up and down Maud’s office, where she was pre-planning some promotions for ’12 to keep the peasants happy, I mused about the intricacies of young catchers and their power numbers. And I did it there because I wanted to have something to have my voice reflect off, and her greying bun was just right for that, although she was not allowed to answer any of my rhetorical questions – not that many of them were even possible to answer. "What does it help the Raccoon to sit on top of an enormous trash can, when it is glued shut nevertheless?” That kind of stuff.

And I hadn’t even needed booze for that.

Booze would have been required to seriously consider the Cyclones’ proposal in the last week of November. They offered to send Logan Taylor back to us (no! no! nooooo!) for Pat White and Ricky Moya. While the idea of reducing our crappy outfielders was – ... well, we weren’t reducing anything here, and it would cost us a decent prospect, too.

The fact that Logan Taylor started the 2011 season so pathetically was the sole reason the whole Morales personnel carousel got even in motion! We got out with Ricardo Carmona in the end, but I would have preferred to acquire a player that would slog a steady .850 OPS on a corner outfield spot once in a while. The last time I did that was with Luke Black.

I wonder if there are more overlooked and underpaid veterans out there like Black, that know how to hit dingers, but aren’t appreciated where they are playing. Maybe even free agents with no self-esteem. And hell, yes, there are…!


November 20 – The Raccoons move to acquire Dallas’ 26-year old C Dylan Alexander (.279, 25 HR, 110 RBI), parting with 27-yr old AAA SP Brendan Teasdale (0-7, 6.39 ERA) and 20-yr old #31 prospect A SP Cameron McSweeney.
November 24 – The Warriors sign ex-POR/WAS OF Jose Morales (.326, 160 HR, 621 RBI) to a 6-year deal, that will pay this 28-year old slugger $18.96M.
November 26 – Aging veteran ex-CIN/SAC 3B Sonny Reece (.315, 222 HR, 1,481 RBI) signs a 1-yr, $1.38M contract with the Indians.


Dylan Alexander hit all of his 25 home runs in 2011 for the Stars. Before that he had 20 at-bats with the Miners in 2010, and those didn’t go very well. He offers left-handed power to all fields and depths, adding 29 doubles to his 25 dingers in ’11. His defense and game-calling is described as very adept, with a nice 31% CS% to help his team have a say in the running game (though Bowen’s was 37% in ’11 after a slow start).

Both Alexander and Bowen figure to get a fair share of at-bats early in the month to see who swims and who stinks. Alexander is on a minimum deal, and he even has options.

Yes, I wanted to rebuild the farm, and yes, McSweeney was our second-highest ranked prospect after Ricardo Carmona – whom I have no intentions of trading! – but … uh. See, McSweeney was perhaps three years away from the big leagues, and there are a few concerns over his third pitch, which whenever thrown seems to lead to bad things for him, even in A ball. If we can exchange a maybe-starting-pitcher in ’15 for a qualified home run threat right now, that should help us greatly with the strong starting pitching we have assembled right now, and that can’t be a bad thing.

Nope, the Raccoons are not in rebuild mode. Why would they? They won 88 games, and you can make an argument that they missed out on the playoffs due to a pile of injuries and extremely ****ty luck.
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Portland Raccoons, 55 years of excell-.... of baseball: Furballs here!
1983 * 1989 * 1991 * 1992 * 1993 * 1995 * 1996 * 2010 * 2017 * 2018 * 2019 * 2026 * 2028
: 2 POWELL : 8 REECE : 10 BROWN : 15 HALL : 28 CASAS : 32 WEST : 46 SAITO

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Old 05-12-2016, 05:12 PM   #1844
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There was a whole flurry of strong relief pitchers on the free agent market, but everything else was a bit harder to get this winter. The Raccoons were really into a starting pitcher and a center- or rightfielder. The latter should bat right-handed to help keep things balanced a bit.

Meanwhile we had a surplus of catchers, with four of those on the 40-man roster, and three of them were no good.


November 27 – The Raccoons flip 32-yr old C Travis Owens (.266, 15 HR, 68 RBI) to the Aces for 23-yr old OF/1B/2B Sandy Sambrano (.286, 3 HR, 73 RBI).
November 28 – The Bayhawks take ex-DEN 3B Javier Rodriguez (.300, 36 HR, 356 RBI) on a 3-yr, $4.06M contract.
November 28 – The Titans shore up the back end of that old bullpen, adding ex-WAS CL Tommy Wooldridge (54-44, 2.41 ERA, 199 SV) on a 3-yr, $4.86M contract.
November 28 – The Indians deal C Richard Speed (.299, 11 HR, 72 RBI) to the Stars for OF Jaylen Napoleon (.285, 2 HR, 20 RBI) and a third-rate prospect.
November 29 – Former Raccoon SP Jong-hoo Umberger (58-32, 3.10 ERA) signs a 2-yr, $424k contract with the Crusaders.
November 29 – Former Indian LF/RF Dave Graham (.293, 187 HR, 793 RBI) signs with the Miners. 32 years old, Graham will earn $10.56M through his age 36 season.
December 1 – Rule 5 draft: 12 players are taken over two rounds. The Salem Wolves draft 22-yr old AAA 2B Jason Bergquist from the Raccoons.
December 1 – The Bayhawks shell out $12.4M to sign 31-yr old LF/RF Jose Gomez (.326, 76 HR, 516 RBI) for five years. Many question the prudence behind the signing for the ‘hawks, as the former Blue Sock’s injury log fills a phone book, with chronic shoulder and elbow problems regularly landing him on the DL.
December 1 – LF/RF Don Cameron, 27, gets picked up by the Canadiens (.308, 32 HR, 421 RBI) after splitting the 2011 season between the Bayhawks and Capitals. Cameron is going to make $13.2M over five years.
December 1 – The Capitals get back at the Titans and sign 35-yr old LF/RF/1B Gerardo Rios (.264, 274 HR, 1,031 RBI) for two years at $2.64M.
December 1 – The Buffaloes pick up the Pacifics’ former closer, Risto Mäkelä (33-36, 2.53 ERA, 130 SV). The 32-year old right-hander is going to earn $3.66M over three years.
December 2 – This should make the Crusaders’ pitching staff so much better: New York adds ex-DAL SP Paul Miller (158-90, 3.70 ERA) to a 5-yr, $13.2M contract. Miller was the 2006 World Series MVP.
December 2 – The Falcons are excited over the addition of 32-yr old ex-SAL SP Max Shepherd (101-74, 3.37 ERA), who parlays winning the FL ERA title in 2011 into a 5-yr, $14.6M contract with Charlotte.
December 2 – The Wolves also fail to resign their other top free agent, as 1B/2B Alberto Rodriguez (.296, 68 HR, 481 RBI) hooks up with the Capitals for $11.76M over four years.
December 5 – Former Indian SP Bob King (107-89, 3.71 ERA) signs with the Thunder. The 28-yr old right-hander will make $15.8M over five years.


Thank goodness – no more slams off Nick Brown by that crummy Speed guy!

Bergquist was part of the Morales/Carmona deal. He was so terrible in AAA after the trade that I considered it impossible for him to be picked. There had even been room on the 40-man roster. Oops.

Sambrano is the type of super utility player we haven’t had for a while. As a batter he’s not all that much – he has never filled out his 6’3’’ frame as that career .286 average consisted of 87% singles and in ’11 he had 15 extra base hits among his 123 base knocks – but he can play almost anywhere on the field, even some shortstop. The only positions he hasn’t been tasked with were third base and catcher. What’s more, he’s a dangerous base stealer, swiping 34 bags in 2011. He is also a switch-hitter.

He is certainly not an All Star, not now and not in three years, but considering that Travis Owens’ value on the roster had trended towards zero since the trade for Dylan Alexander, the Sambrano trade is tremendous. I would also dump Tom McNeela, but he at least has an option left. Yet, the offseason is dark and full of horrors…


Also below, the Hall of Fame ballot. It’s the second-to-last year of eligibility for players that weren’t inducted pre-2004 under the Secret Ninja Committee’s rules. Also for the first time there’s a player on the ballot that would be inducted as a Raccoon although I despise him monstrously.

… and I’ve been working too much and slept too little this week and I am just out of words right now…….
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Old 05-13-2016, 11:32 AM   #1845
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love the move to acquire sambrano. he is versatile., with a great eye. he played really well last season, especially against righties. this kid gets on base. he also gives u some speed to play with. although he was caught steeling at an alarming rate. i think sambrano will quickly become a fan favorite. go coons
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Old 05-13-2016, 12:37 PM   #1846
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Editorial warning: this report begins with an assessment of the 2011 Winter Meetings and then quickly drifts into reflecting on the olden times.


December 6 – The Raccoons sign 26-yr old left-hander MR Manobu Sugano, a Japanese international free agent, to a 2-yr, $500k deal.
December 6 – Ex-CHA LF/RF Luis Reya (.291, 81 HR, 521 RBI) joins the Blue Sox on a 4-yr, $3.84M contract.
December 7 – Another free agent signing for the Raccoons, who had 32-yr old ex-PIT OF John Alexander (.289, 163, 778 RBI) on a 2-yr, $1M deal.
December 7 – A trade is commenced between the Loggers and the Raccoons, who flip 28-yr old SP Gil McDonald (15-13, 3.49 ERA) and 28-yr old MR Ted Reese (4-6, 3.82 ERA, 1 SV) to Milwaukee to acquire 27-yr old CL Micah Steele (25-34, 2.86 ERA, 145 SV).

December 7 – Former Indians closer Salvadaro Soure (43-45, 2.16 ERA, 215 SV) signs with the Stars for 3-yr, $4.44M.
December 7 – The Indians console themselves with a trade for Tijuana’s OF Rowan Tanner (.281, 26 HR, 189 RBI) #15 prospect SP Pedro Murillo, who is 24 and expected to debut this season.
December 7 – The Loggers go out and get some offensive help with the addition of ex-CIN OF Pedro Estrada (.284, 49 HR, 421 RBI). The 33-year old left-hander gets a 2-yr, $3.04M deal with Milwaukee.
December 7 – The Titans trade C Jose Flores (.271, 28 HR, 92 RBI) to Washington for MR Adam Riddle (12-5, 2.80 ERA, 3 SV) and #45 prospect INF Ricardo Marrero, who is 20 years old.
December 8 – The Canadiens steal 29-yr old SP Jimmy Sjogren (44-44, 4.14 ERA) from the Indians, along with worthwhile pitching prospect Blake Parr, for the nothingness that is 27-yr old AAA OF Javier Cardenas (.133, 0 HR, 0 RBI in 15 AB).
December 8 – … and then the Canadiens go on like that and add the Knights’ SP Johnny Krom (36-32, 3.90 ERA), a 27-year old southpaw, for two shady prospects, although SP Stephen Quirion is ranked at #135.
December 8 – Former Falcon 1B/SS Jesus Amador (.247, 52 HR, 399 RBI) agrees to a 3-yr, $5.16M contract with the Bayhawks.
December 8 – The Loggers send 27-yr old OF J.R. Richardson (.264, 28 HR, 159 RBI) to the Pacifics for 27-yr old 1B Silvestro Roncero (.305, 6 HR, 59 RBI).
December 9 – The Blue Sox send 26-yr old OF Jeffrey Matthews (.280, 33 HR, 264 RBI) to the Thunder for a package of four prospects including #21 SP Joe Medina.
December 9 – The Crusaders sign ex-ATL SS/3B Jaime Kester (.265, 19 HR, 226 RBI) to a 2-yr, $544k deal.
December 10 – The Falcons send SP Manuel Ortíz (36-47, 4.22 ERA) to the Scorpions for two second-rate prospects.
December 10 – The Titans acquire 29-yr old SP Alex Lindsey (33-28, 4.55 ERA) from the Buffaloes, parting with decent prospect Zack Traylor.


No, our two Alexanders are not related with another. They were signed as a part of a greater scheme to gain an advantage by confusing opposing teams. We will also bring back Yoshi Yamada to that end.

Hell, no! Please stop cancelling your season ticket subscription right now. Please!

Why on earth the Miners didn’t play John Alexander in the last few years is entirely beyond me. They had a few other good outfielders, but Alexander might be the best of them, yet, he was reduced to irregular starts and to pinch-hitting assignments. As of right now, I must admit, I have no general idea or a grand plan of how our 2012 outfield will shake up in the end. I’m just adding players like a crazy man, hoping that the 2011 performance can be improved by just throwing more bodies at the issue.

The same isn’t true for the pen, where Micah Steele might be our main acquisition from the right side. He slots into the setup role in front of Angel Casas, with Law Rockburn getting pushed into the seventh inning. Both of those two will be free agent after the season, and I have already arranged for hostile quibbling in the bullpen throughout the season, since Micah Steele was given a closing guarantee by the Loggers that I have no intention of honoring. I parted with Gil McDonald rather easily on this one, since I intended to replace him anyway.

While the Raccoons were adding players daily at these Winter Meetings, one thing didn’t yet quite materialize for them: that starting pitcher to replace Gil McDonald, specifically.

Trading for a strong starting pitcher was not really an option since our farm was barren except for Ricardo Carmona, and with Carmona it is like with Hector Santos a few years back. I do think that Carmona is something special, and he will not be touched by anybody. There was a lot of gunk on the roster, but nobody ever traded a #2 starting pitcher for “a lot of gunk”.

And as the days passed in early December, there were indeed 11 outfielders on the payroll, and not one of them was even named Ricardo Carmona:

$1.2M – Tomas Castro
$500k ($1M total) – John Alexander
$460k (arb.elig.) – Matt Pruitt
$300k ($600k total) – Keith Ayers
$290k (arb.elig.) – Santiago Trevino
$258k (arb.elig.) – Sandy Sambrano
$232k (arb.elig.) – Pat White
$154k (league minimum) – Jimmy Fucito, Brett Gentry, Jerry Saenz, Jason Seeley

Granted, total it’s $3,856,000 and I have spent more on specific roster areas for less results, but where should all those players be stashed? Well, Castro, Saenz, Trevino, and Ayers are all out of options, while Alexander does have options, but he also has veteran’s 10/5 rights, just as a reminder before you make any quick decisions here.

It might be best to start with what should really be on the roster in terms of personnel. Of course, Matt Pruitt, the unlucky bastard, should be the starting leftfielder. I have some mildly unreasonable hope that John Alexander is the next Luke Black dump grab, so he should start in rightfield. That leaves center for Jason Seeley, although, wait, no, now we’ve got no room for Tomas Castro. And we were supposed to keep Keith Ayers to platoon with a left-handed corner outfielder, but that leaves out Trevino as defensive replacement, although White can defensively sub for anybody, and what about Fucito, and OH MY GOD THIS IS ****ED UP.

At least all the voices agree that neither Brett Gentry and Jerry Saenz will be part of any ridiculous concoction of outfielders we’ll run out for 2012. Saenz is a left-handed leftfielder without any remarkable contact-making abilities, and Gentry was never supposed to be here in the first place. He actually hit very decently as the replacement’s replacement’s injury replacement. There still wasn’t any room for his mediocre package on the roster. Sorry, Brett, wrong decade. The 2002 Raccoons would have loved you. You would have had your own bobblehead.

Actually, the 2002 Raccoons outfield is one of those things that you can find remotely funny once you’re a good few years past it. First, no 2002 Coons outfielder managed to reach an .800 OPS and it wasn’t even close. In fact, only three players on that team reached an .800 OPS, and only two did so in a “qualifying” number of plate appearances: Al Martin hit .300/.356/.528 with 32 homers, and Jesus Palacios singled away for a nice .320/.374/.436 line. Honorary mentioning for Daniel Sharp’s .782 OPS mark. But, swiftly ahead! The 2002 Raccoons actually only ran out only eight outfielders, and at one point simply stopped trying. They are, in order of OPS attained:

.767 – Eddie Torrez (.271/.340/.427 in 96 AB, so it doesn’t really count)
.728 – Neil Reece (.257/.348/.380 in 284 AB, so it doesn’t really count, either)
.710 – Clyde Brady (.237/.351/.359 in 527 AB)
.709 – Chris Parker (.269/.344/.365 in 249 AB)
.694 – Chris Roberson (.249/.286/.408 in 559 AB)
.526 – Chris Beairsto (.125/.213/.313 in 80 AB)
.460 – Cal Lyon (.183/.206/.254 in 126 AB)
.422 – Gilberto Flores (.167/.211/.211 in 90 AB)

So, not only was the qualifying 2002 Raccoons outfield led in offensive prowess by an acknowledged Avatar of Losing in Clyde Brady (yes, I did like him then, but no, he was no good for the team), no, the only two guys to even cheat themselves past that on the power of small sample sizes were a 25-year old flash-in-the-pan that soon became synonymous with constant grisly injuries, and whatever the ’02 Coons could pry from Neil Reece’s thoroughly used-up body, which he dragged around centerfield routinely for the last year in ’02 whenever he wasn’t sidelined with maddening neck pain and then finally a shattered ankle. Shoutout to Roberson, who hit 16 homers in his first full season in the Bigs and looked like a solution to the problem of succeeding Vern Kinnear in leftfield, an issue that by then was old enough to be in kindergarten, but that really hasn’t been solved ever since because the door keeps revolving. Roberson never hit 16 homers again in a season – in fact he needed FOUR YEARS to hit another 16, but by then he was already dumped onto the unsuspecting Buffaloes. Chris Beairsto’s name flares up a special kind of sadness in me, and Lyon and Flores were really fillers only pathetic teams could place any hope in from the start.

That 2002 team lost 89 games, and the outfield had no part in keeping them out of last place that year, while the Crusaders spent about $12.50 on their entire lineup to lose 95 games. Ironically, Stanton Martin got his first cup of coffee that year, but he wouldn’t break out until his age 26 season in ’05, when he burst from a .353 SLG in an injury-riddled 2004 campaign to lead the league in slugging at .524, the first of three consecutive years he’s done that.

How much has the leftfield door revolved? Post-1997, Old Vern’s last in Portland, *nine* players have led the team in starts at the position in just 14 years, and only Matt Pruitt for more than two years, and his three years are still split by Ron Alston, who managed to start the most games of any Raccoon in 2009 in LEFT- AND RIGHTFIELD(!!!) – with Stephen Buell, Daniel Richardson, Ramiro Cavazos, Roberson, Reece, Brady, Tomas Castro preceding Pruitt’s 2008 effort – while before 1998, there were THREE distinct leading starters in left in *21* years. I call that the "Dan The Man Effect".

There are a few positions where the Raccoons enjoyed regular long-term occupancies that only recently became a mess (like shortstop) in decades past, but leftfield has been a mess forever. Not so much: first base, although the 90s post-Osanai were a bit of a trial-and-error period. Hint for that, outside of Esteban Baldivía and Liam Wedemeyer and César Gonzalez all coming and not doing anything? In 1993, Matt Higgins was assigned most first base starts at the power position, while hitting 36 homers for his entire 10-year career! But that one at least ended with Yoshihito Ito popping a Grant West pitch to a hustling Bobby Quinn and everybody got their paws ringed.

Back to ’02 and later, Roberson’s one-time flash was not completely useless. We traded him to the Buffaloes in a bigger deal that netted us Pablo Ledesma, who was then flipped to the Wolves for Carlos Sackett, who was then flipped BACK to the Wolves for Edgardo Fernandez, who was then flipped to the Condors for Kel Yates.

Lesson for the kids: you might have a ****ty start into life, but if keep trading trash long enough, you can trade your way all the way up to Kel Yates!

And then we traded down again from Kel Yates to Jose Correa to the second coming of Craig Bowen. Oh well, you can’t always win. Which is a good lesson, too, but not one we should explore in detail right now. But I do find it funny how the $9.5M deal Jose Correa signed with the Gold Sox prior to 2006 has so far been shoved around often enough for the Blue Sox having paid just over $1M of it, and they are only in fourth place when it comes to money forked over for Correa.

All of this is one verbose derailment that should really state that we have a mess in the outfield, but at least we don’t even have to consider employing a quad-A guy like Brett Gentry AND THAT IS ALL THAT COUNTS.

We’re paying him, though.
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Old 05-14-2016, 03:00 PM   #1847
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I tried to trade some excess outfielders for ANYTHING in the latter half of December, but it was like trying to sell snow boots in the Central African Republic. No takers. Not one. I mean, ultimately you can’t blame the other teams, who aren’t run by complete idiots … most of the time.

I really wasn’t looking for much, maybe a backup infielder to replace Gutierrez, or a semi-decent second-rate prospect, preferably in the infield where our system was basically non-existing, but – no. Simply, no.

Don’t even ask about Craig Bowen.


December 14 – The Bayhawks sign ex-DEN 1B Andrew Simmons (.319, 50 HR, 381 RBI) to a 2-yr, $2.14M contract. Simmons was a type A free agent, and the Bayhawks’ aggressive offseason shopping now has them forfeiting their second, third, and fourth round picks.
December 16 – The Loggers deal 1B/2B Craig Miller (.258, 0 HR, 12 RBI) to the Gold Sox, from whom they receive MR Pat Hanson (4-4, 4.31 ERA, 3 SV) and 22-yr old prospect CL Orlando Valdez, who was once the #53 prospect, bus has dropped out of the top 200 since then.
December 21 – The Loggers sign ex-SFB SP Ramón Jimenez (98-109, 4.54 ERA) to a 1-yr, $1.02M contract.
December 25 – The Raccoons announce the addition of 25-yr old Japanese international free agent SP Shunyo Yano, who signs a 4-yr, $5M contract.
December 25 – 39-yr old ex-NYC SP Takeru Sato (181-164, 4.19 ERA) signs a 2-yr, $3.72M contract with the Pittsburgh Miners.
December 25 – Another veteran adds himself to the Crusaders instead, as 2B/SS Bartolo Hernandez (.308, 63 HR, 904 RBI), who split 2011 between the Cyclones and Titans, signs a 1-yr, $870k contract.
December 26 – The Titans grab 35-yr old ex-CHA LF/RF Jesus Flores (.273, 134 HR, 821 RBI) on a 2-yr, $3.04M agreement.
December 26 – The Buffaloes announce the addition of two free agents in one sweep, adding 31-yr old ex-VAN 2B Jerry Dobson (.261, 82 HR, 509 RBI) for 2-yr, $1.52M as well as 29-yr old ex-DAL OF/3B Joe Cowan (.245, 38 HR, 604 RBI) for 3-yr, $3M.
January 4 – Former Warriors LF/RF Jimmy Bayle (.263, 72 HR, 445 RBI) signs a 2-yr, $2.32M contract with the Indians. Indy will be the 34-yr old Bayle’s third station in the CL North amid seven teams total.
January 7 – Irregular closer and former Warrior Francisco Rodriguez (56-57, 2.76 ERA, 178 SV) will be paid $1.44M to spend his age 32 season with the Pacifics.
January 8 – Another veteran outfielder joins the Indians, as they come to terms with 36-yr old ex-DAL LF/RF Yohan Bonneau (.290, 199 HR, 952 RBI) and will pay him $2.32M over three years.
January 18 – The Stars pick up 29-yr old ex-BOS SP Jesus Cabrera (95-104, 4.30 ERA) for 4-yr, $5.12M.


The Yano contract starts at $1.1M in 2012 and goes up to $1.4M by 2015. The starting pitcher market for established ABL players was more or less tricky if a team – like the Coons – was weary to surrender their top draft pick. And the Raccoons won’t get any additional picks this year, so they were quite protective of their #18 pick.

Yano was the perfect opportunity then, as he figures to be about comparable to Baldwin and Conway in ability. They’re an indistinguishable mesh for the middle of the rotation. Right now we have Hector Santos penciled in as #5 starter, but nobody quite knows what Santos might be able to do in a full season.

It’s the middle of January, we still have $1.3M (including cash) to spend, and it just doesn’t look like we can get another trade that would make sense done. It’s not *easy* to find an upgrade for this roster, but without intentionally trying to hurt Michael Palmer or Jon Merritt – hey, we might be able to do better! Except that I don’t want Jon Merritt on the bench after all. Imagine him on the bench, and Castro having an off day. With two more players on the bench, along with Bowen, we’d have $5M sitting out there and staring.

The Critters do lead the ABL in offseason WAR gains, but a) I can’t help but feel that this is a useless stat, and b) I also can’t help but feel that we’re stuck regardless in some way.

So what? Swipe up another expensive reliever to pitch the sixth inning to at least get the pen back in line to where it used to be? I don’t know.



PIT LF Diego Rodriguez – 7th – 78.2 – INDUCTED
TOP SP Arnold McCray – 7th – 68.5
MIL SP Neil Stewart – 5th – 64.7
POR CF Neil Reece – 2nd – 53.8
DAL 2B Rodrigo Morales – 1st – 46.2
IND CL Jim Durden – 9th – 43.7
WAS CL Domingo Rivera – 9th – 29.0
SFB CL William Henderson – 1st – 24.4
BOS LF Jose Martinez – 5th – 11.8
??? CF John Hensley – 2nd – 8.8
POR 3B Ben O’Morrissey – 1st – 8.0
IND 3B Matt Brown – 1st – 6.7
SFB SP Ricardo Sanchez – 1st – 5.9
BOS SP Doug Morrow – 3rd – 5.9
OCT CF Joey Humphrey – 1st – 5.5
WAS SP Ramón Ortíz – 2nd – 5.0
DAL 1B Mac Woods – 1st – 3.4 – DROPPED

I’m a bit shocked that Neil Reece keeps trending upwards, at this pace he might actually make the Hall. He didn’t even reach 2,000 hits, and during the 90s I kept advertising him as “one of the best two centerfielders” in the game – the other being John Hensley, who’s not going anywhere (but who also had a shorter career).
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Old 05-15-2016, 05:22 AM   #1848
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Repeated attempts to shake up the outfield, which looked like a bored cat had pushed several open cans of paint down a pretty steep staircase, proved mostly fruitless. The Thunder at the end of January tried to trade for Tomas Castro, and while I wasn’t necessarily wanting him gone, despite being in a terrible squeeze with our outfielders, of which we had enough to form a soccer team, I was open to a trade to free up a spot for whoever was going to get squeezed between Pruitt, Seeley, and John Alexander.

How open? Very open. Blood-sputtering-hole-in-the-head open. I tried to get Erik Janes, the #42 prospect and probable future shortstop star, from them and was ready to take on the completely dead contract of Kurt Metting in exchange, but they were entirely disinclined to such a notion. Metting was due another $1.52M. A pretty good second baseman when he was with the Wolves in the early 2000s, Metting signed a 6-yr, $8.72M contract with the Blue Sox before the 2007 season, but was traded to the Thunder in the middle of the season. Then his body just crumbled to dust. He has made 29 appearances in the last four years, and none in ’11, while all the time cashing some monstrous checks. Compared to Castro, we’d only pay up $320k in this deal while getting a top notch young shortstop perhaps a year away from the majors, AND resolve our outfield mess for a good bit – but the Thunder weren’t dealing Janes, no way.

Needless to say, this was ultimately a very frustrating offseason. Craig Bowen is still here, and I managed to actually increase the number of outfielders. No trade for even a semi-decent prospect came together for any of the surplus personnel.

In March, I was even after Marcos Bruno, who had spent two good years in Indy, but I was not into giving him a second guaranteed year at age 36, while the Warriors did, so ultimately he trended that or any other way.


January 23 – Former Cyclone CL Iemitsu Rin (44-33, 1.74 ERA, 266 SV) signs a 2-yr, $2.5M contract with the Titans.
January 23 – The Falcons flip MF Robert Parsons (22-35, 3.71 ERA, 107 SV), a 31-year old right-hander, to the Thunder for two middling prospects.
January 27 – The Titans add ex-VAN SP Tommy Wilson (103-128, 4.50 ERA) on a 2-year deal. The 33-year old right-hander will earn $2M in total.
January 28 – Ex-WAS/POR MR Joe O’Brian (10-5, 3.41 ERA, 7 SV), 29 years old, signs a 3-yr, $1.38M contract with the Crusaders.
February 22 – The Warriors come to terms with ex-SAL C Miguel Torres (.254, 88 HR, 587 RBI), who signs a 3-yr, $1.48M contract.


The Raccoons were reduced to adding “bits and pieces”. No sexy additions. No “WE GOT DAVID BREWER!!!” madness. We still got Craig Bowen.
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Old 05-15-2016, 05:24 AM   #1849
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Looks like the Racoons finally found a way to get a leg up: import their good players from another country. If you can't draft them, purchase them!

But I jest. Personally, I would have thrown this year to the fire, but it seems with some luck, Portland will make a run for it this year.... and it looks like the team might just dethrone New York.
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Old 05-15-2016, 06:58 PM   #1850
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2012 PORTLAND RACCOONS – Opening Day Roster (first set shows 2011 numbers, second set overall; players with an * are off season acquisitions):

SP Nick Brown, 34, B:L, T:L (16-8, 2.76 ERA | 150-89, 2.90 ERA) – the league has the book on Nick Brown by now, which means avoiding him in April and from August onwards, and pouncing on him in the early summer, where he’s historically bad, with his “bad” still being around major league average, however; blistering stuff, and although he posted a career-worst 9.1 K/9 in ’11, that still led the CL, the third time he led in K/9 in his career; enters the year 26th all time in strikeouts and 25 K behind Kisho Saito for the franchise mark.
SP Colin Baldwin, 29, B:L, T:L (14-10, 3.20 ERA | 43-42, 3.50 ERA) – Baldwin had a good year in 2011, setting career highs in innings pitched and strikeouts, but his stuff isn’t overpowering and he’s a pretty consistent 6 K/9 pitcher.
SP Shunyo Yano *, 25, B:R, T:R (rookie) – international free agent from Japan with a 95mph cutter and four other pitches, including sharp splitters and forks; signed a 4-year deal.
SP Bill Conway, 26, B:R, T:R (15-11, 3.39 ERA | 25-30, 3.96 ERA, 2 SV) – 16 home runs allowed aside, Conway’s second full season (and first with the Coons) was a success in ’11, with numbers largely similar to Baldwin’s.
SP Hector Santos, 23, B:S, T:R (6-2, 3.50 ERA | 7-6, 4.24 ERA) – only has two partial seasons to his credit thanks to Tommy John surgery in 2010; so far the blue chip material stuff has not materialized, with under 6 K/9 in ’11, but everybody agrees that he will still get better; problem for him his fatigue, as his stamina has been reduced quite a bit after surgery.

MU Pat Slayton, 26, B:R, T:R (2-2, 2.97 ERA | 4-2, 2.78 ERA) – the former rule 5 pick is a bit prone to longer hot and cold streaks, and he can’t be relied on in tight situations, which repeatedly led to bad things in 2011; mostly used in long relief situations, and he has pitched for four outs per game for his two years in the majors.
MR Kyle Mullins, 30, B:R, T:R (1-1, 3.68 ERA | 7-7, 4.65 ERA, 5 SV) – claimed off waivers from the Cyclones last August, a pretty average right-handed reliever.
MR Manobu Sugano *, 27, B:L, T:L (rookie) – another international free agent from Japan, Sugano removes hitters efficiently with his slider, we’ve been told.
MR Lawrence Rockburn, 31, B:R, T:R (3-2, 3.03 ERA, 3 SV | 36-16, 2.77 ERA, 18 SV) – Law had his worst season outright in ’11, missing two months with injuries and being inconsistent when he was available, causing him to lose the setup job to new arrival Micah Steele.
SU Micah Steele *, 27, B:R, T:R (4-6, 3.24 ERA, 43 SV | 25-34, 2.86 ERA, 145 SV) – acquired in trade from the Loggers, Steele was a closer for the last four years, but nobody’s going to jump over Angel Casas all that quickly; the Raccoons struggled with the pen in ’11, and the acquisition of Steele should get the Coons back to pre-2010, when they had Marcos Bruno as secondary closer available in the eighth inning.
SU Ron Thrasher, 24, B:L, T:L (0-2, 1.92 ERA, 2 SV | 1-5, 1.90 ERA, 3 SV) – superficially, most numbers about Ron Thrasher look good, but he walks a batter for every inning, which is a major sore for a setup man that usually pitches in close games; with Sugano a bit of a wild card, Thrasher better protect his back and throw strikes.
CL Angel Casas, 29, B:S, T:R (2-3, 1.74 ERA, 48 SV | 16-16, 1.64 ERA, 314 SV) – after putting up a new single season saves record in 2010, Angel didn’t get a chance to double up on the effort thanks to the rest of the team in ’11, but nevertheless led the league in saves for the third time in his career; when he’s at least average, nobody can beat him.

C Dylan Alexander *, 27, B:L, T:R (.285, 25 HR, 110 RBI | .279, 25 HR, 110 RBI) – traded for with the Stars, Alexander had a monster rookie season in 2011, also hitting 29 doubles and taking the FL Platinum Stick and will get the bigger share of the Raccoons’ starting assignments behind the dish to start the season.
C Craig Bowen, 31, B:S, T:R (.217, 12 HR, 49 RBI | .232, 101 HR, 402 RBI) – four more years until Bowen’s untradable contract will be up; sad thing, he even had a share for the team’s home run lead last year, despite a rampantly atrocious performance at the plate; he did a good job controlling the running game, but that was it.

1B Adrian Quebell, 29, B:L, T:L (.267, 12 HR, 79 RBI | .294, 81 HR, 450 RBI) – his second Gold Glove aside, Quebell followed up signing a $8.88M extension by hitting a paltry .728 OPS, which was one of a thousand reasons the Raccoons went nowhere in 2011.
2B Ieyoshi Nomura, 28, B:L, T:R (.321, 6 HR, 62 RBI | .282, 19 HR, 302 RBI) – quietly put up the best offensive season of any Raccoon last year, hitting 50 XBH, walking more than he struck out, played very good defense, ended up third in batting in the CL, and justifiedly made his first All Star team.
2B/SS/1B Michael Palmer, 29, B:R, T:R (.260, 5 HR, 46 RBI | .289, 20 HR, 217 RBI) – his first season in Portland won him his first Gold Glove, but he also hit almost 40 points under his career average, while sharing Yoshi’s achievement of walking more than he struck out.
1B/3B/2B Jon Merritt, 35, B:R, T:R (.246, 5 HR, 59 RBI | .268, 52 HR, 700 RBI) – had his second-worst offensive season, second-worst defensive season, two injuries, and a 10-game suspension in 2011; it might actually get worse, but only if he gets run over by the Pony Express.
1B/3B/2B/SS Manuel Gutierrez, 31, B:L, T:R (.250, 1 HR, 15 RBI | .256, 10 HR, 77 RBI) – his main qualification is defensive adeptness all around the infield; in a pinch, he can also pinch-run; he was a waiver claim in 2007, and so far has passed through waivers several times while in the Raccoons organization, but spent the entire 2011 season on the major league roster, gobbling up 156 AB.

LF/1B Matt Pruitt, 28, B:L, T:R (.228, 9 HR, 58 RBI | .284, 45 HR, 303 RBI) – suffered through catastrophically bad luck last season, but we should also say goodbye to the idea that he might turn into a prolific power hitter with a .746 OPS after some 2,400 PA.
LF/CF Tomas Castro, 28, B:S, T:R (.283, 5 HR, 37 RBI | .300, 67 HR, 382 RBI) – continues to be eaten up by injuries small and big and gross, and his offensive performance continues to suffer as well; will be a free agent and we can’t wait to get his wrecked body off the roster...
LF/RF/CF John Alexander *, 32, B:L, T:L (.240, 6 HR, 30 RBI | .289, 163 HR, 778 RBI) – the Raccoons try to force the issue and generate another Luke Black miracle in Alexander the Second, who led the FL in RBI twice with the Stars before vanishing on the Miners’ bench. On a cheap free agent deal, we’re hoping for some 2008 magic, when he smashed 80 extra base hits.
LF/CF/RF Jason Seeley, 25, B:L, T:R (.247, 6 HR, 35 RBI | .247, 6 HR, 35 RBI) – got a starting assignment in connection with the Jose Morales trade in July of 2011, and hit for 19 extra base hits in under 200 AB before shearing off a paw and missing the last month of the season; since we’re in a squeeze for room among outfielders, him and Castro might get the shortest end of starting assignments unless John Alexander turns out to be a dud.
RF/LF Keith Ayers, 29, B:R, T:R (.227, 8 HR, 35 RBI | .255, 24 HR, 122 RBI) – has some pop, but isn’t overly reliable, and frequently out at home; has there ever been a player that continued to find employment because he was a *right*-handed batter?
1B/LF/2B/CF/RF/SS Sandy Sambrano *, 24, B:S, T:R (.309, 2 HR, 42 RBI | .286, 3 HR, 73 RBI) – super utility player that can be thrown almost anywhere on the field, and also has excellent speed to find employment as pinch-runner – with both qualities obviously combining well.

On disabled list: Nobody.

Otherwise unavailable: Nobody.

Other roster movement:
SS/3B Dave Roudabush, 26, B:R, T:R (.158, 2 HR, 6 RBI | .180, 2 HR, 8 RBI) – waived and DFA’ed; not many skills to rave about, not even defensively.
LF/1B Jerry Saenz, 26, B:L, T:L (.222, 3 HR, 5 RBI | .222, 3 HR, 5 RBI) – waived and DFA’ed; has some power, but also cuts holes into the air, and doesn’t defend his position very well.
LF/RF/CF Pat White, 29, B:S, T:R (.175, 0 HR, 9 RBI | .286, 12 HR, 141 RBI) – waived and DFA’ed; good defense outfielder, but he’s not hit well in either of his two Portland seasons.
CF Santiago Trevino, 29, B:L, T:L (.263, 0 HR, 2 RBI | .234, 5 HR, 74 RBI) – waived and DFA’ed; definitely a terrific defensive centerfielder, but that is his only skill…

Opening day lineup:
Vs. RHP: CF Castro – 2B Nomura – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – C D. Alexander – 3B Merritt – RF J. Alexander – SS Palmer – P Brown
(Vs. LHP: 2B Nomura – 3B Merritt – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – RF Ayers – SS Palmer – CF Sambrano – C D. Alexander – P Brown)

Finding a sound lineup against left-handed pitchers continues to be extremely difficult. Maybe Craig Bowen will get all assignments against left-handers, although he’s a natural left-handed batter and his splits are routinely pretty gross. Keith Ayers is all giggles at the roster composition, though.


For the second year in a row the Raccoons were very active early and had added four warm bodies by the winter meetings and then simply stopped getting things together – and the contract that Yano signed was on his table before the meetings, too. Although, to a big part, the main issue was that we tried to trade all the guys that are now on waivers, plus Bowen and Castro, and no takers could be found. We do have money left over to make a significant acquisition (think Ron Alston-sized) should we be close in the middle of the season, although let’s be honest, where should the prospects involved come from? More on that below.

Top 5: Crusaders (+11.5), Warriors (+9.0), Scorpions (+6.4), Raccoons (+5.7), Pacifics (+5.2)
Bottom 5: Blue Sox (-8.2), Stars (-9.1), Indians (-9.8), Gold Sox (-10.9); Wolves (-12.7)


My streak of missing by five games on the Raccoons pre-season ended in 2011, when I missed by four, as they couldn’t go 92-70 and ended up 88-74 with the pitching better than expected, but the hitters collectively being minced and reduced to bratwurst.

The team still consist of much of the same personnel as before, with the additions consisting of a closer to shore up the eighth inning, and aside from that a few hopes and maybes.

Although there are upsides, too. It’s about mathematically impossible for Matt Pruitt to put up another .241 BABIP season, and injuries played a big part of why 2011 didn’t work out. Our September starting outfields came close to NC-17 snuff movies. But sometimes hopes are hopes, and hopes will get dashed more often than not. Pitching and defense can only do so much, and unless somebody breaks out in a major way (John Alexander?), this season could get quite ugly.

Prediction: the Raccoons will fall short of the playoffs, and it won’t be close. The big-money, star-laden Crusaders will likely motor right through the division into the playoffs, and the Raccoons might be beaten by as much as 15 games. A 85-77 finish might seem likely.


The Raccoons were just inside the upper half of minor league systems throughout most of the last decade, but then had a great migration off the prospect list during 2010, leaving their system to crash into last place before the 2011 season when they had only three ranked prospects, and none inside the top 100. Of those three, two lost their ranks during the last 12 months, but reinforcements have come, but the Coons’ top prospect will be Japanese international free agent Shunyo Yano, who’s not really here to lighten up the prospect scoreboard (or any scoreboard). Overall, our system fits just inside the upper half again, 11th overall.

Jason Bergquist, who had been taken by the Wolves in the rule 5 draft, was returned to the Raccoons on Opening Day, but is not ranked.

10th (new) – ML SP Shunyo Yano, 25 – international free agent
24th (new) – AAA OF Ricardo Carmona, 20 – international discovery by Capitals, acquired in trade with Mike Cook, Jason Bergquist, Joe O’Brian, and Gary Dupes for Jose Morales and Luis Beltran
79th (new) – A SP David Tingley, 19 – 2011 first round pick by the Raccoons
146th (-23) – AAA SP Rich Hood, 25 – 2009 first round pick by the Raccoons
148th (new) – AA SP Gary Dupes, 22 – 2008 fourth round pick by Cyclones, acquired in trade with Ricardo Carmona, Mike Cook, Jason Bergquist, and Joe O’Brian for Jose Morales and Luis Beltran
156th (new) – AA RF Mike Cook, 21 – 2008 first round pick by Capitals, acquired in trade with Ricardo Carmona, Jason Bergquist, Gary Dupes, and Joe O’Brian for Jose Morales and Luis Beltran
181st (new) – A SP Dan Moon, 20 – 2010 supplemental round pick by the Raccoons

The farm top 10 are completed by AA SP Chris Brown, INT SP Ricky Martinez, and AAA CL Francisquo Bocanegra

The top prospect overall is the Buffaloes’ AA LF/RF/3B Saverio Piepoli, who might combine all five tools once he’s matured. The top 3 are completed by SAL AAA SP Jaden Joseph and NAS AA SS Andrew Showalter.

Next: a look back at draft disaster of years past, and then the first pitch, which will be delivered in hostile territory!
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Portland Raccoons, 55 years of excell-.... of baseball: Furballs here!
1983 * 1989 * 1991 * 1992 * 1993 * 1995 * 1996 * 2010 * 2017 * 2018 * 2019 * 2026 * 2028
: 2 POWELL : 8 REECE : 10 BROWN : 15 HALL : 28 CASAS : 32 WEST : 46 SAITO

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RACCOONS DRAFT HISTORY (as of April 1, 2012)

Players in bold = players currently in the Coons' system (majors or minors).
Players underlined = active major leaguers or players that have played in the majors this season.
Listed are the first five rounds from every draft, plus draft picks that made it to the big leagues from later rounds. In very rare cases a player from below the fifth round will be listed that doesn’t qualify under the previous stipulations, like when his call-up to the Raccoons’ roster could come soon.
This is merely an update of the last three draft classes and what else has happened since then. I intend to do a proper write-up at least of the old draft classes at some point, but you know me, heh, yeah … [This sentence is untouched from the last three updates and counting…]
Prior to this update, 1990’s third-rounder Antonio Donis was the longest-ago pick still active, and he still is spinning balls, two months shy of his 40th birthday.

1977 – Whole draft class is retired

Round 1 - LF/RF Daniel Hall – Franchise poster boy! Forever in our hearts! After a career riddled with all kinds of big and small injuries, he retired after 17 major league seasons, all with the Raccoons, and a .263/.366/.437 career slash line, 1,886 hits, 223 home runs, 980 RBI, and 99 steals, as well as two rings. We will never forget you, Daniel! (sobs)
Round 2 - SP Jose Garcia – retired without reaching the majors.
Round 3 - 1B Matt Workman – Played 595 games at 1B for the Raccoons, including 404 straight starts before being traded with prospects for Tetsu Osanai. Never landed another job in the starting lineup elsewhere, and last appeared with the Wolves in 1988. Career stats: .271/.327/.390, 61 HR, 327 RBI in his career.
Round 4 - MR Miguel Bojorquez – Appeared in 39 games for the Raccoons between 1980 and 1985, before being claimed on waivers by the Blue Sox. Bounced around in the Federal League as a third-string lefty reliever until 1990. Career stats: 147 G, 11-7, 2 SV, 4.93 ERA
Round 5 - SP/MR Jorge Rodriguez – Was traded before the '83 season and has been with Boston in '83, L.A. in '85, and Oklahoma in ‘87. Career stats: 67 G, 0-2, 1 SV, 7.02 ERA.
Round 7 - MR Jason White – Was traded after the 1985 season for Marcos Costello, and after pitching for the Wolves and Loggers in ’86, bumbled around in the minors for eight years before retiring. 264 career games with a 4.14 ERA.

1978 – Whole draft class is retired

Round 1 - MR Richard Cunningham – Nasty right-handed setup man that was blocked behind Grant West for almost a decade, but still devastated batters. Traded to Dallas in the 1988 firesale that started a dynasty, Cunningham became closer there for a few years. After 1992, he soldiered on to pitch for five more teams, remaining a reliable and competent pitcher until the very end. 1,072 G, 89-75, 2.86 ERA, 173 SV, 1,257 K.
Round 2 - MR Gary Simmons – Beaten up as a starter with the Raccoons in 1980-81, and was traded to Nashville after the 1982 season. The Blue Sox and later the Knights employed him as reliever exclusively and he remained competent in that role, ending his career after the 1993 season. Career stats: 623 G, 64 GS, 3.44 ERA.
Round 3 - 1B Johnny Snow – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 4 - MR Marvin Large – Retired without reaching the majors despite 15 minor league seasons.
Round 5 - C Eric Gregory – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 7 - LF/RF Fernando Perez –ad four hits in 26 AB’s for the Coons between 1982 and 1984, was claimed by the Pacifics in 1985, but never appeared in the majors again.

1979 – Whole draft class is retired

Round 1 - MR Grant West **HOF**– Forever Portland’s local hero, West spent his whole career as a Raccoon, and being a fail-proof closer for 13 of his 16 seasons. Career stats: 905 G, 43-34, 522 SV, 2.12 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and two rings, and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2000.
Round 2 - SP Pepe Acevedo – Was shipped off to Cincinnati in the Jack Pennington trade before the 1981 season, and was in the majors for the Cyclones and Indians between 1984 and 1989 with a 43-37 record and 3.80 ERA, but never made it back after that.
Round 3 - MR Fletcher Kelley – Solid right-handed reliever, who was traded to Nashville in the Raúl Herrera trade, where he won two rings. Bounced between teams after 1987 and after three unsuccessful appearances for the 1990 Thunder, he only reappeared in 1994 with the Condors for 18 games of getting mobbed. Career stats: 433 G, 25-18, 7 SV, 3.80 ERA.
Round 4 - LF/RF Gary Carter – Had nine AB’s for the 1983 Coons, going hitless. Never played anywhere else.
Round 5 - C Dave Stewart – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 6 - MR Gilberto Soto – Pitched for the 1984-85 Coons. Career stats: 59 G, 4-2, 1 SV, 4.81 ERA.

1980 – Whole draft class is retired

Round 1 - SP Carlos Gonzalez – Potentially great career that was derailed by injuries early and often. Gonzalez had to retire at the tender age of 30. Pitched for the Raccoons 1984-89 and the Titans 1990-91. Career stats: 145 G, 143 GS, 48-57, 3.91 ERA.
Round 3 - SP Ray Willis – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 4 - 1B/2B Darren Campbell – Only had 86 AB’s for the Raccoons from 1985 to 1987 and never played for another big league team. Career stats: .209/.253/.244 with 0 HR, 7 RBI.
Round 5 - LF Jose Perez – Was taken by the Scorpions in the 1984 rule 5 draft and played for them from 1985 to 1987. Career stats: .221/.297/.277 with 1 HR, 20 RBI.

1981 – Whole draft class is retired

Round 1 - 3B/2B Orlando Lantán – Hurt his knee shortly after being drafted and spent short stints with the Coons in 1985 and 1986, after which he was claimed off waivers by the Blue Sox, but never played for any other team. Career stats: .200/.261/.248 with 1 HR, 10 RBI.
Round 2 - C Greg Thornburg – Great defense, but never much of a batter. Had his 15 minutes of fame with the 1986 Aces, getting four AB’s with a double.
Round 3 - OF Kelly Weber – Backup outfielder 1984-1988, was traded to the Gold Sox for 1989, but only appeared in six games for them. Career stats: .251/.298/.320 with 5 HR, 112 RBI.
Round 4 - MR Pedro Vazquez – Right-handed fireballer with severe control issues, he made 69 appearances for the Raccoons between 1986 and 1992, before being claimed off waivers by the Wolves. Ended up in Vancouver in ’93 and appeared from them in two last games in ’94 before finishing his career in the minors. Career stats: 108 G, 1 GS, 4-5, 4.60 ERA, 2 SV.
Round 5 - CL Emerson MacDonald – Appeared for the Raccoons in 1986 and 1988, before being traded to the Pacifics in the trade for Jeff Martin. Last pitched for the Indians in 1991. Career stats: 100 G, 8-4, 3.96 ERA.
Round 7 - C Andy Reed – Had limited exposure with the Raccoons and Dallas as backup catcher. Career stats: .267/.341/.371 with 2 HR, 9 RBI.

1982 – Whole draft class is retired

Round 1 - LF/RF Alejandro Lopez – When he didn’t click in the minors, he was traded to the Blue Sox in an 8-player deal in 1985, with whom he debuted the same year. Won two rings with the Blue Sox before being traded to the Condors in ’91, but was unsigned after ’92. He came back to the Raccoons as a scrap heap signing in May of 1993 and was a productive part down the stretch en route to his third World Series title. But he didn’t produce in ’94, was waived and claimed by the Canadiens, didn’t produce there either, and by now has retired. Career stats: .258/.305/.408 with 106 HR, 564 RBI, and 71 SB.
Supp. Round - INF Carlos Miranda – Versatile infielder, with us from 1985 to 1989, but never caught on anywhere else, being limited to 266 career AB. Career stats: .244/.301/.308 with 0 HR, 13 RBI, and 9 SB.
Supp. Round - OF Matt Olson – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 2 - MR Jason Bentley – Another player that only appeared for the Raccoons, from 1985 to 1989. Good right-hander that at one point just lost it. Career stats: 238 G, 5-11, 3 SV, 4.01 ERA, 184 K.
Round 3 - C Odwin Garza – The Aruban’s claim to fame will be that he was included (with SP Manuel Paredes) in the deal that netted the Raccoons David Vinson and Miguel Lopez. Appeared as backup for the Raccoons in 1986-87, and for the Warriors 1988 and 1990. Career stats: .222/.292/.309 with 0 HR, 9 RBI.
Round 4 - 1B Mariano Duarte – Only made the Bigs after leaving as a minor league free agent, accumulating 51 AB for the Thunder in 1989, and one more in 1991. Career stats: .288/.403/.538 with 3 HR, 10 RBI.
Round 5 - RF/LF Paul Blake – Only appeared for the 1986 Raccoons. Career stats: .220/.265/.308 with 1 HR, 5 RBI.

1983 – Whole draft class is retired

Round 1 - SP Scott Wade – Although he lacked a third pitch, Scotty was able to scrape by during a 17-year run in the majors, debuting in 1985 and staying in the rotation until late in 1997, when his diminishing stuff made him a swing man to fill a hole wherever one opened up, although he was a full time starter again in his second-to-last season in 2000. After 582 games (421 starts), he finished with a 170-141 record, 53 saves, and a 3.63 ERA, plus two World Series rings, and retired as the third meaningful always-Coon after Daniel Hall and Grant West.
Supp. Round - C Miguel Carrasco – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 5 - LF Wilson Martinez – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 8 - 1B/3B Jose Lopez –Was released in 1985, but eventually bounced into a small cup of coffee with the 1991 and 1993 Knights for 18 career AB. Career stats: .111/.105/.222 with 0 HR, 3 RBI.

1984 – Whole draft class is retired

Round 1 - MR Juan Santos – Shipped out for the in Portland short-lived Jose Sanchez after 1987, he didn’t make his debut until 1989 with the Scorpions, but was demoted and never heard from again in 1990, retiring after seven seasons in the minors. Career stats: 64 G, 2-6, 5.23 ERA.
Supp. Round - 1B Billy Mitchell – Blocked by the Hall of Famer Tetsu Osanai, he was traded after the 1988 season, and appeared for the Capitals and Falcons until 1994. Career stats: .296/.371/.466, 75 HR, 399 RBI.
Round 2 - OF Hector Medina – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 3 - RF Jose Correa – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 4 - MR Jorge Cavazos – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 5 - LF/RF Jose Vega – Retired without reaching the majors.

1985 – Whole draft class is retired

Round 1 – 1B/3B Joe Jackson – debuted in 1988, but was traded to the Falcons after that season for Justin Reader. On the Falcons he was infrequently their starter and then back to the minors, and a starter again. He was traded to the Knights in 1998, but returned for the 1999 season. He last appeared in 2001. Career stats: .244/.315/.355, 51 HR, 485 RBI, 78 SB.
Supp. Round - 1B Gabriel Ramirez – Retired without reaching the majors. Was at one point traded to Cincinnati for Glenn Johnston, which is a story in itself.
Round 2 - MR Jose Mendoza – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 3 - LF/RF Antonio Morín – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 4 - 1B/2B Dennis Gray – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 4 - SP/MR Gerald Hickman – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 5 - 3B/2B Bartolo Ayala – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 6 - MR Mike Shaw – Control-challenged lefty reliever that appeared for the 1986 and 1988 Coons. Career stats: 37 G, 0-1, 5.40 ERA.

1986 – Whole draft class is retired

Round 1 - SP Miguel Martinez – Retired. He was included in the deal for Neil Reece in the 1988 sales, which was another big W for the Coons. Was traded a few more times, pitching for the Thunder 1989-91, and then only resurfaced with the 1995 Warriors, was traded to the Gold Sox the same year, but didn’t appear in the Bigs after 1996 and retired two years later. Career stats: 72 G, 61 GS, 14-23, 4.71 ERA.
Round 2 - SP/MR Eugene Scott – Retired without reaching the majors. He held out in the minor leagues until 2000, hoping to finally break into the big leagues, but never made it.
Round 3 - 1B Vincente Rodriguez –Was a part of the deal for Jorge Salazar before the 1990 season, and played for the Indians from 1990-1993. Career stats: .257/.327/.362 with 16 HR, 106 RBI, and 14 SB.
Round 4 - RF/INF Ben Nash – Managed one hit in 12 AB for the 1995 Raccoons.
Round 5 - MR Keith Jefferson – Retired without reaching the majors.

1987 – Whole draft class is retired

Round 1 - 2B/3B Hector Gonzalez – was a part of the Neil Reece deal in the 1988 sales, and made his debut for the Buffaloes the same year. He appeared for them until 1993, then for the 1994 Gold Sox, but was left unsigned after that. Career stats: .233/.302/.334 with 38 HR, 360 RBI, and 15 SB.
Supp. Round - MR Albert Matthews – after his 1989 debut with the Coons it soon became apparent that consistency was not in his vocabulary. Was demoted and recalled frequently and alternated between mop-up and setup duties regularly. He was claimed off waivers by the Canadiens in 1995 and while he bounced frequently after that, and had three stints with the Canadiens, he stayed employed until 2007, after which he retired. Career stats: 814 G, 36-54, 60 SV, 3.97 ERA.
Round 2 - C Bob Armstrong – Primarily a defensive catcher, he spotted 26 AB (7 hits) for the Coons between 1992 and 1994, before being traded to the Falcons in 1996, but didn’t get another chance in the majors.
Round 3 - INF/LF/CF Terry Miller – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 4 - SP Dennis Fried – appeared in 16 games for the Coons in 1990 and pitched so-so, before being included in the ill-fated Raul Castillo deal in 1991 (Castillo only played in three games for Portland due to injury). He went on to pitch 17 years for the Blue Sox, leading the Federal League in WHIP four times. Career stats: 549 G (509 GS), 240-167, 3.61 ERA, 2,455 K.
Round 5 - MR Walter Weber – Retired without reaching the majors.

1988 – Whole draft class is retired

Round 1 - LF Edgar Morris – Constantly hurt and struggled in our system and eventually became a free agent. He made sporadic appearances for the Knights from 1995, appearing in at most 93 games in a season (1997), but his last four games came in 1998. Career stats: .290/.357/.406, 4 HR, 41 RBI in 276 AB.
Round 2 - INF Steve Caddock – Caddock’s only nice quality was his able glove, but that was enough to have him appear frequently with the Raccoons between 1995 and 2000, with at most 298 AB in a season (1998). Once let go, he never caught on elsewhere. Career stats: .199/.271/.303, 11 HR, 69 RBI.
Round 3 - MR John Smith – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 4 - C Freddy Lambert – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 5 - LF/RF Chih-tui Jin – Made his debut in 1993 with the Coons, but never got past backup status, but broke out when he was traded to the Gold Sox with Esteban Baldivía to attain the services of Liam Wedemeyer and Tzu-jao Ban. Always hampered by injuries, he nevertheless put up a few wildly successful seasons with the Gold Sox, yet never made an All Star game. He had to retire in 2002 at age 32 after he tore his labrum in Titans service. Career stats: .295/.406/.445, 74 HR, 487 RBI, 25 SB.
Round 8 – SP Jesse Novak – After being released in 1989, he eventually caught on with the Blue Sox, debuting for them in 1993 with a single relief appearance. He spent a full season in their rotation in 1996 before being demoted to (rare) relief apperances and was traded to the Rebels, for whom he appeared a few more times until 1999. Career stats: 94 G, 36 GS, 14-18, 4.58 ERA, 3 SV.

1989 – Whole draft class is retired

Round 1 - SP Eduardo Salazar – Always riddled with injuries, Salazar was traded after the 1992 season for the Miners’ Christian Proctor (didn’t work…). After making 17 starts for them in 1993, he saw limited use from the bullpen the next two years, and never appeared in the majors again. Career stats: 26 G, 22 GS, 10-7, 3.67 ERA.
Supp. Round - CL Gabriel De La Rosa – powerful right-handed pitcher that debuted in 1993 and soon carved out a permanent spot in our bullpen. He was traded to the Stars after 1998 to bring in Cesar Gonzalez, and was their closer from 1999 through 2003, never missing a beat, but faded after 2004. He also pitched for the Titans and Thunder before retiring after the 2006 season. 734 G (17 GS), 48-57, 209 SV, 2.51 ERA, 771 K.
Round 2 - 1B Ruben De La Rosa – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 3 - OF/1B Rodrigo Correa – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 4 - SP Brendon Bell – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 5 - MR Rafael Vazquez – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 8 – C Ron McDonald – never won a starting job and made sporadic backup service cameos with the 1994-1998 Raccoons and 1999-2000 Knights before fading into obscurity completely. Career stats: .242/.279/.342, 5 HR, 39 RBI.

1990 (note: this was the first draft over 12 rounds)

Round 1 - MR Daniel Miller – Retired. Shot through the minor leagues to make his debut in 1991, which he started with 15 innings without an earned run allowed. He was a constant in the Raccoons’ bullpen from then until 2002, despite some control issues that never went away, with intermittent attempts at having him close in the post-Grant West era, but nothing good ever came of that. Lost it completely in 2002 and became a free agent, and spent one more season with the Blue Sox’ AAA team before going fishing. Career stats: 698 G, 39-35, 56 SV, 3.61 ERA.
Supp. Round - SS/2B Jayson Kelley – Retired without reaching the majors.
Supp. Round - C Marcos Lozano – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 2 - MR Leon Wright – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 2 - LF/CF Francisco Reyes – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 3 - SP António Donís – A stunning groundball pitcher with high strikeout ability, Donis was hampered by his short stamina in his time with the Raccoons, making 43 starts between 1995 and 1997, going 13-16 with a 4.26 ERA, but was then converted to a reliever due to his frequent struggles to go even five innings efficiently. He found his place in the pen by 1999, and was trade to the Gold Sox after 2000 in a package for Carl Bean. The Gold Sox made an attempt at bringing him back to the rotation in 2002, which didn’t work, but he has been a starter again since 2005 with dazzling success, leading his league in WHIP five of the last seven years, and adding two more Pitcher of the Year titles in 2010 and 2011 to his 2006 award. 710 G (294 GS) with a 166-93 record, 2.93 ERA, 47 SV, and 2,153 K.
Round 4 - 1B Mark Logan – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 5 - 1B/2B/LF Michael Martin – Retired without reaching the majors.
All others from this year are retired.

1991 – Whole draft class is retired

Round 1 - SP Gerárdo Ramirez – Severe control issues derailed his career. Was limited to 12 appearances for the 1994 Raccoons. Career stats: 12 G, 11 GS, 3-4, 5.34 ERA.
Supp. Round - LF/RF Paco Martinez – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 2 - 2B Pat Parker – After getting into only 32 games for the 1993-94 Raccoons, he was traded to the Condors for Mike Dye, but bounced from there to Cincy, where he was the second base starter in 1996, and on to Denver, where he had another three seasons before falling out of favor. Career stats: .292/.372/.422, 34 HR, 243 RBI, 23 SB.
Round 2 - INF Michael Lloyd – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 3 - MR Fred Carlton – Had cups of coffee with the Furballs in 1998 and 1999, but awful control had him achieve nothing whatsoever in his brief career. Career stats: 19 G, 0-0, 7.11 ERA.
Round 4 - 1B Steve Stevens – The Curacaoan Stevens was released in 1994 for hacking madly and getting done little. The Indians picked him up and he got into the briefest stint in the majors, but never had a hit. Career stats: .000/.200/.000 in 4 AB.
Round 5 - MR Pancho Padilla – Control was never in his vocabulary and so he never held down an assignment for long. Spent 1996-98 with the Raccoons, 1999 with the Miners, and started 2000 with them before being sent to the Capitals, posting a 7.22 ERA in his final season in the majors. Career stats: 171 G, 9-6, 5.35 ERA, 2 SV.
Round 6 – LF/RF Kenny Crockett – When injuries culled down the Raccoons outfielders in scores in 1997, he was called upon to help, but mostly didn’t. Had one more appearance in 1998 and was later released. Career stats: 46 G, .287/.313/.404, 2 HR, 15 RBI.

1992 – Whole draft class is retired

Round 1 - OF Luke Newton – Although given ample chances after his 1995 debut, Newton never gained a starting job if not for injuries, and when he gained one, got hurt himself. Was let go after 2000 and never signed by anybody. Career stats: .221/.309/.316 with 10 HR, 137 RBI, 41 SB in 1,350 AB.
Supp. Round - 3B Mike Crowe – Inheriting third base from Ben O’Morrissey wasn’t the easiest of tasks, but Crowe failed rather spectacularly. After barely decent seasons in 1997 and 1998, he was wholly ineffective and eventually banned to the bench in 1999. After he became a free agent in 2000, he was picked up by the Knights, then the Warriors, and later the Knights again. He kept bouncing between the majors and AAA, but didn’t appear in the Bigs after 2007. Career stats: .247/.361/.317 with 26 HR, 221 RBI in 2,052 AB.
Supp. Round - SP Clinton Kennedy – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 2 - 1B/3B/RF/LF Mark Kowalchuk – Reminded us of Mark Dawson before the draft, but never lived up to that and was out of baseball by 2001. Had a wildly unsuccessful stint with the 1998 Coons. Career stats: .088/.205/.088 with 0 HR, 2 RBI, 1 SB in 34 AB.
Round 3 - MR Kokei Kondo – Claimed by the Wolves as rule 5 pick, he spent the 1998 season with them, then was dropped quicker than hot coal due to insisting on walking batters. It was his only major league exposure. Career stats: 43 G, 6-1, 6.30 ERA, 1 SV.
Round 4 - C Jorge Chavez – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 5 - OF Joseph MacKellachie – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 7 - SP Jose Cervantes – Released in 1996 after pitching poorly in AA for us, the Wolves picked him up and even used him as full time starter from 1998 to 1999, but quickly got tired of his act. He never made another big league team. Career stats: 63 G, 14-29, 5.07 ERA.


Round 2 - INF Brent McLaughlin – Retired. Despite a lack of nice abilities, he appeared all too regularly for the Raccoons from 1997 through 2003, but never got another major league gig. Career stats: .225/.297/.311, 1 HR, 21 RBI in 289 AB.
Round 3 - RF/LF Marvin Gregory – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 4 - C Brad Gray – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 5 - 1B Santiago Rodriguez – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 6 - SP Ray Conner – Became a minor league free agent before hooking up with the Indians and made sporadic appearances for them, then was traded to the Titans after 2001. He suddenly broke out as starter in his age 30 season in 2005, and had a few good seasons through 2009, but recently he’s become a swingman for the 2010 Knights and 2011 Crusaders, with whom he still is. For his career, he’s 78-82 with a 4.24 ERA, 2 SV, and 713 K.
Round 12 - MR Pedro Perez – Retired. Sporadically appeared as a left-handed reliever for the Raccoons from 1999 through 2002 without any success. Career stats: 38 G, 0-4, 8.57 ERA.
All others from this year are retired.


Round 1 – LF/RF George Wood – we traded him for Daniel Richardson when he struggled in AAA, and he was traded twice more, but then debuted with the 2002 Thunder, appearing with them through 2005, but never for more than 19 games in a season. Six years and three organizations later, he suddenly appeared again in a few spot assignments for the ’11 Thunder, batting .253 in 75 AB. Batting .262 with 4 HR and 23 RBI in 168 AB.
Round 2 - 1B Carlos Salazar – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 3 - OF Cal Lyon – Retired. Appeared as injury replacement for the Raccoons between 2000 and 2003. Last played in our system in 2004, and retired in 2006. Career stats: .156/.183/.211, 2 HR, 13 RBI.
Round 4 - SP Joe Key – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 5 - 1B Harry Jackson – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 6 - SP/MR Manuel Diaz – Retired. While he debuted in 1997, he only made it into six games with the Raccoons, and although he bounced around in the minors for a few more years after that, that was all that was to his major league career. Career stats: 6 G, 0-0, 9.00 ERA.
All other from this year are retired.


Round 1 - LF Manuel Villa – Retired without reaching the majors. Bust #1 from this draft went down with a concussion in 1996 and never quite came back the same. Retired after failing in A and AA in 2002.
Round 2 - RF/LF Cory Stanford – Retired without reaching the majors. Bust #2 from this draft, just worse. Released soon, and played across all three minor league levels in all years from 1999 to 2001 with the Miners before getting dumped for good.
Round 3 - MR Bill Coles – Retired without reaching the majors. Bust #3, never made it out of AA ball.
Round 4 - SP Julio Romero – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 5 - 1B/2B George Morris – Retired after a few cups of coffee with the 1999 and 2001 Coons and a bench assignment with the Blue Sox from 2004 to 2005, before sinking back into the minors before one last cup of coffee with the Buffaloes in ’08. Career stats: .227, 1 HR, 21 RBI in 181 AB.
Round 8 - OF Jason Kent – Retired. Sporadically appeared as injury replacement between 1997 and 2001, after which he bounced throughout the wide world of the minors for another seven years without landing another major league at-bat. Career stats: .243/.312/.332 bat, 4 HR, 26 RBI in 325 AB.
Round 11 - SP Nick Brown – Brownie!!! Squeal!!! The 11th round gift that keeps on giving has gone from 293rd overall in the 1995 draft to the #12 prospect in the ABL by the late 90s and from there onto a quest to strike out every batter in the country! His stuff is blistering, despite a development to go to junk over the summer more or less every year. After a slow debut late in 2001, he battled himself into the ace role and casually broke the single season franchise mark for strikeouts four times, and now he’s also just a sneeze away from Kisho Saito’s overall franchise mark. Also won the Pitcher of the Year in 2009! Under contract for two or three more years right now. 150-89 with a 2.90 ERA and 2,297 K!
All others from this year are retired.


Round 1 - MR Manuel Martinez – highly efficient strikeout guy with little stamina; debuted in 1999 for the Raccoons and quickly hurled himself into a key role in the bullpen before being traded to the Titans after 2004 for Christian Greenman and prospect Ryan Miller, grabbing the closer’s job for three years in Boston before being traded to L.A. in the middle of 2010. 763 games, 45-40, 2.98 ERA, 152 SV.
Supp. Round - SP Dwight Williams – Retired without reaching the majors. Throwing dead straight had him surrender up to 50 home runs a year in the minors, and no team has ever dared to entrust him with a big league ball.
Supp. Round - INF/RF/LF Carlos Gomes – Retired without reaching the majors. Broke his elbow a month after the draft, and then tore his labrum the next September, forcing him to quit baseball.
Round 2 - 2B/SS Sergio Tirado – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 3 - MR Juan Diaz – Retired. After his 2000 debut he spent the entire 2001 campaign with the Critters, but walked more than he struck out. A horrendous 2002 campaign, during which he achieved three-wild-ones-in-one-at-bat notoriety had him banished to the minors and dumped at year’s end, and his career fizzled out in the minors rather quickly after that. Career stats: 155 G, 6-7, 4.85 ERA, 1 SV.
Round 4 - 1B Albert Martin – was raking around 30 homers a year with reliability for the Raccoons in the early 2000s, but his career imploded after being dealt to the Titans for a package containing Ricardo Martinez and others. The prototype fielding-challenged slugging first baseman ended up bouncing between AAA and the majors and from organization to organization, grabbing a few at-bats here and there, but he spent the entire 2011 season in the minors. .281/.339/.449 with 163 HR and 627 RBI.
Round 5 - SP Ralph Warren – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 9 - C/1B Jorge Defrese – Retired. Never a hot prospect, he received a callup in 2001 after more mixed results in the minors during a time in which the Raccoons were striving far and wide for qualified catching, and didn’t manage to impress in his 25 games with the Critters before being traded to the Knights for Ramón Meza. Made sporadic apperances for the Knights from 2003 through 2005, but has been swamped in the minor leagues. Career stats: .245/.301/.339 with 6 HR, 35 RBI.
All others from this year are retired.


Round 1 - MR Dan Nordahl – fireballer, who never could work out how to successfully and regularly save games, until he was traded to the Warriors with Randy Farley for Adrian Quebell before the 2005 season. Still there, still closing. Career: 774 G, 53-54, 3.37 ERA, 311 SV, 927 K.
Round 1 - C Julio Mata – when he debuted late in 1999 and batted .311 in 206 AB we sung praise for our new franchise catcher. Two years later he was dumped onto the Scorpions for Kaz Kichida, and he became something of a regular third catcher that was frequently demoted because nobody cared about him, before actually landing the Canadiens’ primary backstop assignment in 2010. Career: .242/.308/.363, 40 HR, 253 RBI.
Supp. Round - LF/RF Jochen Funck – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 2 - 1B Don Irvin – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 3 - SP Craig Rhodes – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 4 - MR Mauro Rodriguez – Retired. Was a not-working left-handed reliever for the 2002 Raccoons, was dumped and dingled through the minors until retiring in 2006. Career stats: 27 G, 0-1, 7.13 ERA.
Round 5 - SP/MR Antonio Toro – Retired without reaching the majors.
All others from this year are retired.


Round 1 - LF/CF Chris Roberson – his bat never was quite what we hoped for and his Gold Glove defense wasn’t enough to keep him around, either – overall he was just not the second coming of Daniel Hall, or at least Vern Kinnear, or a league-average batter even. He went to the Buffaloes in the dismal Pablo Ledesma trade before the 2003 season, stuck with them through 2008 in a third/fourth outfielder role, and after that bounced through the Condors, Loggers, and Pacifics before signing with the Miners for 2012. Bats .265 with 60 HR and 364 RBI for his career, with 44 SB.
Supp. Round - SP Frank McGeraghty – Retired without reaching the majors.
Supp. Round – CL Scott Boone – after a horrendous 14-game debut with the Raccoons in 2003, Boone did not resurface in the majors until the Loggers took him on in 2008, starting a 3-year stretch of quite qualified relief from him, but he only got into a single game with the Cyclones in 2011. 8-8 with 3 SV and a 3.91 ERA in 175 career games, 160 of those with the Loggers.
Supp. Round - LF/RF Jesus Valle – Retired without reaching the majors. We knew beforehand he couldn’t hit a lick.
Supp. Round - OF Herb Rose – Retired without reaching the majors. Same as with Valle.
Supp. Round - MR Sergio Vega – made an unspectacular debut with the Raccoons in 2001, appearing in seven games, and despite not possessing any remarkable ability, has been back to the majors with them every year except 2005 and 2009. More career walks (100) than strikeouts (96). Has probably been waived more often than any other Coon without getting claimed. 107 G (3 GS), 3-7, 4.42 ERA.
Round 2 - C Pat McClellan – Retired without reaching the majors. Defensive catcher that couldn’t hit for his dear life.
Round 3 - 1B John Morris – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 4 - OF Bryan Forrest – Retired without reaching the majors. We released him within a year after the draft.
Round 5 - 1B/2B/LF/RF Reed Shaw – Retired without reaching the majors.
All others from this year are retired.


Round 1 - OF/1B Darwin Tyler – had 108 poor AB with the 2004 Raccoons and eventually elected minor league free agency. Despite all signs pointing at retirement, he somehow made it back with the 2007 Buffaloes, landing another 105 AB between 2007 and 2008. His career line of .197/.259/.277 speaks volumes, though. 4 HR and 19 RBI, but he likes to tell the story of his game against Rochester in which he hit three homers (omitting the fact of a jetstream wind blowing out to centerfield). Still bouncing through the country’s minor league parks.
Round 1 - CL Marcos Bruno – Was never demoted after his debut on the 2001 Opening Day roster, with outright filthy stuff (10.4 K/9) that nevertheless constantly had him play second fiddle to Angel Casas. Left as free agent the Indians’ way after the 2009 season. 678 career games, 50-39, 2.81 ERA, 73 SV, 774 K.
Supp. Round - 1B/2B Matt Love – Retired. Although he made it to AAA quickly, his luck soon ran out. He got a poor cup of coffee with the 2003 Raccoons, and made it into two games in 2004, but never couldn’t impress anybody. Career stats: .235/.286/.255, 0 HR, 2 RBI.
Supp. Round - MR Mike Harvey – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 2 - MR Bob Evans – traded to the Crusaders for Cipriano Miranda, he made his debut with them in 2001 and was a fixture in the pen by 2003 and through 2010. With the Loggers in ’11, and signed to the Knights for ’12. Career: 385 G, 18-14, 3.54 ERA, 11 SV.
Round 2 - LF/RF Jorge Rodriguez – Retired. Adept with the glove, but not with the stick, he got some 100 AB’s with the Raccoons between 2003 and 2006. After being released in 2007 he couldn’t find another gig. Career stats: .240/.288/.413, 3 HR, 12 RBI.
Round 3 - C Bob Wood – was the catcher of the future for about three weeks in an unremarkable 2005 campaign as a primary. Eventually was scuttled to Los Angeles in the Colin Baldwin deal, but has yet to appear in another major league game. .202 with 5 HR and 51 RBI.
Round 4 - SP Ed Bryan – best known for surrendering other people’s runners on 3-run bombs, Bryan was chased out of town after five years of a regular in the Coons’ pen in mid-2009 and has pitched with the Rebels and Knights since. 28-16 with a 3.44 ERA and 9 SV.
Round 5 - SP Giuseppe Loffredo – Retired without reaching the majors.
All others from this year are retired.


Round 1 - 1B/3B Daniel Sharp – put right at AAA after the draft, he only appeared in 30 minor league games before it was clear that he had his youth wasted there, was promoted to the Bigs, and stayed our starting third baseman for better or worse through the 2007 season, after which he became a free agent. Claimed off waivers from the Miners in mid-2008 he appeared in 32 more games for the Raccoons, but was soon traded to Indy in the Ron Alston deal, signed with the Buffaloes, was claimed of waiver by the Raccoons AGAIN, and has since tingled through Denver and Indy into a big deal with the hopeless Loggers. For a long time he had a very steady bat, but his last years in Portland before his first disappearance weren’t very great, while his defense as regular third baseman has always been best described as a nuisance. Career .279/.358/.382 batter with 66 HR, 543 RBI.
Supp. Round - OF Rich Mason – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 2 - MR Matt Cash – it was a long, stony road for Matt “The Professor” Cash, with two seasons almost completely wiped out by injuries, but he finally made his major league debut in September of ’05, appearing in 10 games to a 0.96 ERA. His stuff was marveled about when he was drafted, although his shoulder woes took some bite off his fastball, and after disastrous tryouts in 2006-07, he was on the backburner and eventually taken in the rule 5 draft by the Warriors, throwing up a strong 2010 campaign and then another roughly-7-ERA season in ‘11. 3.91 ERA in 145 career games.
Round 3 - MR David Sutherland – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 4 - INF Alan Williams – Retired without reaching the majors. Could have been a utility guy with a versatile shiny glove, but couldn’t even hit .200 in AAA.
Round 5 - LF Mike Willard – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 8 - 3B Steve Searcy – Retired. Couldn’t get past Daniel Sharp and only got a few bench tryouts between 2005 and 2006. Eventually traded, but never made it back to the Bigs. Career .221/.274/.309 batter with 2 HR, 18 RBI.
Round 9 - MR Claudio Salazar – late bloomer that pitched in A ball in 2005 and suddenly rose to the Coons in late 2006. Ultimately we didn’t desire his services all that much and the Gold Sox took him in the rule 5 draft in 2009 and even had him start 13 games that year with horrendous results. 4-6 with a 5.01 ERA.
All others from this year are retired.


Round 1 - LF/RF/1B Chris Beairsto – Retired. We expected a pretty complete player with a decisive impact bat, and we got a half campaign of .241, 17 HR, 42 RBI in 2003, and that was about where the fairytale ended. He was eventually sent off to the Bayhawks, but spent two more years with our AAA team before retiring. Career stats: .237/.303/.398, 49 HR, 171 RBI.
Round 2 - MR Cody Bryant – Retired. Showed terrible control that never got fixed and was reduced to two short showcases for horrendous Critter teams. Career stats: 10 G, 0-0, 3.24 ERA.
Round 3 - 2B Cedric Chateau – Retired without reaching the majors. Complete bust, no abilities, whatsoever, released in 2004.
Round 4 - MR Stu Sharp – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 5 - SP Tim Webster – Retired. Dumpster Boy would wind up walking more batters than he struck out during three increasingly terrible cups of coffee with the 2005-2007 Raccoons. Career stats: 27 GS, 7-11, 4.80 ERA.
Round 6 - LF/RF Jose Cruz – atrocious defender with a powerless bat. 12-for-36 in very limited exposure in the majors, split over three years and two teams.
Round 7 - MR Luis Beltran – left-handed reliever without much luck in clutch situations that came and went for the Raccoons from 2007 through 2011 before being traded to the Capitals, who got him through waivers only for the Canadiens to pick him in the rule 5 draft. So far 6-4 with a 3.16 ERA and 1 SV in 153 games.
All others from this year are retired.


Round 1 - SS Ieyoshi Nomura – with limited range, he was converted to second base right away, and then rushed to the big leagues well ahead of time, debuting at age 20, which was too early, but since then his offense and defense both have improved tremendously. Career .282 batter with a knack to hit doubles to all fields.
Round 2 - MR Adam Riddle – throws the heat and after a brief 2005 debut was a regular in our 2006-07 bullpen editions before being traded to the Capitals for Juan Barrón. He only blossomed in Washington, but only got irregular assignments the last two years and was traded to the Titans for 2012. 12-5 with a 2.80 ERA in 186 games.
Round 3 - LF Joe Spivey – spent six years with our AAA team without getting a callup. The bat just isn’t there. Got ONE at-bat in single-A in 2011. Free agent.
Round 4 - MR Tony Rodriguez – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 5 - OF Mathew Page – completely inconsistent player that since attaining minor league free agency after ’08 keeps bouncing around, but can’t get to the majors.
Round 6 - 1B Gilbert Eldridge – never played for the Coons, but was signed as minor league free agent by the Aces and got a few at-bats in each of the last three seasons, batting a paltry .130 when given a chance.
Round 8 - 1B Leonard Wyatt – didn’t appear for Portland, either, was signed by the Loggers, and batted .186 in less than 50 AB over three seasons for them.
Round 9 - INF Tom Ingram – Retired. Was not very good in any which way. Career stats: .181, 0 HR, 11 RBI in 171 AB.


Round 1 - CL Angel Casas – this god-sent sinker/slider righty ended the Coons closer conundrum that persisted in the decade since Grant West’s retirement. Debuted just over 12 months after being drafted, and won the closer’s job out of camp in 2005. If not for occasional nagging injuries, the ball is his. 16-16 with 1.64 ERA, 314 SV, and 543 K.
Round 2 - OF Santiago Trevino – half Neil Reece, half Luke Newton in that he is an excellent defensive centerfielder that just can’t hit for his life. Continues to make sporadic appearances, occasionally of the ninth-inning-defensive sort, since 2006. .234/.279/.309 with 5 HR, 74 RBI and 24 SB.
Round 3 - MR Matt Valentine – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 4 - 3B/1B Jerry Lawson – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 5 - SP Salvador Cardona – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 9 - C Juan Rios – not a good defensive catcher, not a good offensive catcher. He still got into 14 games for the 2008 Raccoons, batting .265 with 3 RBI, and keeps not electing free agency because he knows nobody’s going to take him on. Also stole a base, because why not?

2004 (note: this was the first draft in OOTP16)

Round 1 - C/1B Erik Ruff – was originally supposed to hit “lots of doubles and homers”, but that didn’t ever happen, he rather didn’t make contact at all; became a minor league free agent.
Round 2 - 2B A.J. Altheide – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 3 - SP G.G. Williams – We were always convinced he’d become a starting pitcher, but we needed one sooner and flipped him to the Bayhawks with Rémy Lucas for Raúl Fuentes after the ’06 season. He’s been a regular with the Bayhawks since the 2009 season, although he’s been used as swingman and not as a full starter. 14-30 with a 5.08 ERA in 118 games, of which he started 55.
Round 4 - CF/RF Zaire Collins – agile defender and blistering speed couldn’t counter a terrible bat with holes in it; became a minor league free agent.
Round 5 - INF/RF Kevin Rex – battled injuries frequently, but he had a good half-season in AA at one point, which turned out to be a mirage after all; became a minor league free agent and scraped by in single-A in ‘11.
Round 9 - SP Gil McDonald – nobody exactly waited for him, but when injuries created an opening on the Coons in ’10, he jumped right into it and did respectably well for somebody who wasn’t expected to do anything as a 27-year old debutee; was traded to the Loggers after the 2011 season as part of a package to acquire Micah Steele. 15-13 with a 3.49 ERA and 169 K.
All others from this year except for 10th-rounder Zach Dulin are retired.


Round 1 - SP Brendan Teasdale – lost much of his appeal after Tommy John surgery and only managed to make sporadic starts for the 2008-2010 Raccoons before being dumped onto the Stars in the Dylan Alexander trade. The Stars will use him out of the pen. 0-7 with a 6.39 ERA in 10 starts.
Round 2 - SP Pat Composto – started out well in A ball, but struggled in AA, eventually ending in the bullpen, and a minor league free agent.
Round 3 - LF/CF Ed Caldwell – Retired without reaching the majors. We were pretty sure about his hitting abilities, but he was still a galactic bust that was shipped off in a hurry to the Titans in the 2007 John Bennett deal and never surfaced anywhere.
Round 4 - INF Jamie Orr – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 5 - INF Jamie Spicer – Retired without reaching the majors.
Round 8 - MR Josh Gibson – drafted as a shortstop (or rightfielder), he was converted into a pitcher right away, and despite lacking in stuff he managed to get 60 major league appearances between 2010 and 2011. Those weren’t any good, however, with a 4.37 ERA and 1-2 record, and he is back to AAA to start the season.


Round 1 - LF/RF Jimmy Eichelkraut – The Bust of the 2000s! Jimmy Oatmeal was supposed to be the end of all pitching when drafted, but never hit anything at any level before hurriedly being included in the Ron Alston trade to the Indians in mid-2008, but the Indians soon gave up and flipped him to Tijuana for Jimmy Sjogren. Five-and-a-half years later he still hasn’t played above AA, although the Condors called him up in September of 2010 only to have him sit in the clubhouse, so technically he might be a major leaguer after all.
Supp. Round - SP Dave Self – traded to the Pacifics in the Colin Baldwin trade before 2008, he shows severe control issues. Was tried out as closer for a while but started starting again in 2010 in AA for 179 IP, 146 K and 134(!!) BB.
Round 2 - OF Dave Green – looked like the complete package at first, but has trouble seeing the ball, posting 131 strikeouts in A-ball in 2007. Was pretty good in 2009 in Ham Lake, but since then is gradually hitting less and less. Still in AAA to start the ’12 season.
Round 3 - SS Pat Whitehouse – good defensive shortstop, good walk rate; if he could just up his average a bit…
Round 4 - SP Marco Gomez – never managed to develop any of his five pitches to a degree that would allow him to even be mentioned in prospect status dispatches, but is still in AAA.
Round 5 - LF/RF/1B Santiago Celis – Retired without reaching the majors. Strong defensive rightfielder, but that was all he could do.
Round 6 - C Tom McNeela – hit a little in the minors, and even in his two cups of coffee in 2009 and 2011, but hasn’t been able to convince anybody; defense is also not his biggest strength. .265 with 0 HR and 12 RBI in 98 AB.
Round 11 - INF Danny Zigay – part of the Juan Barrón deal with the Capitals in ’07, Zigay didn’t look like much of anything, but in this case, “not much of anything” was good enough for a short callup in 2011, during which he hit .280 with 1 HR and 1 RBI, which means that the 11th-rounder of the 2006 draft currently holds 100% of the homers hit by the draft class, much like the 11th-rounder from 1995 has all the major league strikeouts of that class.


Round 1 - SP Kevin Denton – the control wasn’t there from the start and then he was felled by injuries pretty much every year, holding him to 12 starts in AA between 2010 and 2011; no hope left for this one.
Supp. Round - 1B C.J. Vanderwall – Retired without reaching the majors. Invisioned as a power guy, he hit 22 homers total in 1,655 minor league PA.
Supp. Round - SP Mike Cole – couldn’t get the changeup going, and has moved to the bullpen in 2010, where he continues to nurse command issues.
Round 2 - C Brian Hammond – strong arm behind the dish, but the batting is paltry.
Round 3 - LF Josh Turzak – another power hitter that never showed any power, and also a pretty strong inability to meat pitches at all.
Round 3 - INF Nick Robinson – Retired without reaching the majors. Versatile defender with no stick to speak of.
Round 4 - RF/SS Shane Lea – grisly batting lines at all levels, minor league free agent in ’11.
Round 5 - INF Mark Lydic – more of a defensive middle infielder, gruesome batting; reached AA in ’08, still there.
Round 12 - LF/RF/1B Pete Schipper – amidst a pile of injuries he made his major league debut in 2009 straight out of AA, didn’t do badly (.260/.304/.479 with 4 HR and 13 RBI in 73 AB), but upon returning to AAA to start the 2010 season he posted two campaigns of roughly a .600 OPS and is back full circle in Ham Lake to start the 2012 season; also off the 40-man roster.


Round 1 - OF Jason Seeley – hurray, we drafted a major league-capable outfielder in the first round!! Well, he had a .735 OPS batting .247 with 6 HR and 35 RBI before being axed down with an axe to the ankle, but he is on the major league roster, which is more than Jimmy E managed to achieve.
Supp. Round - 3B Mark Abraham – never found his groove with the stick and his defense has turned into a complete mess at a totally young age; toiling away in AAA.
Round 2 - 1B Matt LaVoie – by contrast, LaVoie’s defense has picked up some and he hit for a .862 OPS in a partial AAA campaign in 2011; injuries played no role in that partial campaign, though.
Round 3 - INF/LF Chris Poole – good defensive infielder who hit fairly well in A ball, but then stopped hitting at all, was released by the Coons, picked up by Oklahoma, and released again.
Round 4 - C Alexis Crespin – calls a good game, but can’t hit a ball for his life
Round 5 - SP Chad Royston – crippled by injuries, he’s all but done, much like Kevin Denton, with whom he rooms on AA road trips.


Round 1 - SP Rich Hood – reached AAA within a year of being drafted, and he turned in a pretty decent 2011 season, ready to jump into any opening caused by injury for the big team. Pretty good curve and slider.
Round 1 - OF Geoff Allen – shipped to the Scorpions in the Michael Palmer trade, Allen keeps batting under the league average in AA.
Supp. Round - 1B Jonathan Marsh – defensively challenged first baseman who’s also challenged with the power and stuck in AA.
Supp. Round - INF/OF Brock Hudman – while defensively adept, he’s a bit of a living strikeout and limited to utility duty in AA.
Round 2 - SP Lance Meyer – completely offbeat when it comes to commanding even his fastball, which does what it wants, resulting in 210 walks in 368 AA innings for him.
Round 3 - OF William Quinn – another defensively adept player who can’t hit a lick and remains stuck in AA, which gives an idea about why that team keeps getting romped for back-to-back sub-.400 seasons.
Round 4 - SP Mark Grimes – complete mess when it comes to everything that concerns pitching and relegated to trash game duties in AA last year.
Round 5 - LF/2B Pat Rouse – can’t even hit in single-A…


Supp. Round - SP Dan Moon – his nasty curve is so nasty that she keeps hitting home plate to the amusement of opposing single-A batters who somehow find themselves down 0-2; complete mess of ill command and control
Supp. Round - SP Justin Denham – his “good 3-pitch mix” was just good enough for repeated shellings in single-A.
Round 2 - RF/LF/1B Jimmy Fucito – one of a million outfielders to debut for the crippled ’11 Raccoons, Fucito didn’t get to showcase much power in a short stint of 63 AB, during which he struck out eight times more than he walked, but somehow still managed a .716 OPS; back at AAA to start the 2012 season.
Round 2 - LF Matt Stubbs – his at-bats are the stuff that fairytales are made of; the ones in which the evil stepmother kills the hero and that make children weep; .408 OPS in 280 double-A at-bats.
Round 3 - 1B Isaac Berry – proudly continues the tradition of fielding-challenged first basemen that can’t hit for power
Round 4 - 3B Matt Nunley – advertised as laser-armed third baseman with a promising hitting profile, this left-handed(!) hot-corner guardian doesn’t guard much, doesn’t hit much, and is also part of that rotten AA team.
Round 5 - RF/LF Keith Chisholm – hit somewhat well in single-A in 2011, with an .838 OPS that was more than 50% OBP, but upon promotion to Ham Lake it all fell apart; he does get on base a lot with walks (62 BB in 401 PA in ’11 between A and AA), but the overall package is severely lacking.


Round 1 - SP David Tingley – we were mildly raving about this high-schooler when we drafted him, and while the control was a big topic for him in single-A in 2011 (62 BB in 117 IP), his overall results are muddled by bad defense and his 4-11, 4.77 ERA performance not indicative of future great things he might do.
Supp. Round - SS Dylan Thorne – “agile shortstop with a good contact bat” – sometimes you can just wipe your butt with scouting reports! Thorne batted .203/.244/.234 with 84 K in 291 AB in Aumsville after being drafted, which is the real and actual definition of a dumpster fire.
Supp. Round - RF/LF/1B Daniel Price – Raked hard without ever meeting a ball in Aumsville in ’11: .174/.223/.227 with 71 K in 247 AB and just a single homer.
Supp. Round - LF/RF/1B Matt Fox – The Trifecta of Terrors continues with Fox, who batted .216/.281/.280 with 76 K in 264 K and no homers.
Round 2 - SP Chris Brown – started in single-A, where he made eight good starts for a defense-inflated 3.29 ERA, then moved to Ham Lake for another seven starts with a defense-inflated 3.67 ERA; overall he struck out 114 in 119.1 innings between the two levels, with 53 walks; his future looks pretty good right now!
Round 3 - LF Scott Hornung – the fourth batter taken in the ’11 draft is the first that didn’t suck completely but also only achieved a .636 OPS…
Round 4 - INF/RF Sean Patterson – “does a bit of everything” isn’t something you like to read about your plumber of choice, and that is also true for batting prospects.
Round 5 - 2B Nick Roberts – seamlessly fit in with the other stick draftees of this class…


Compiled to the best of my abilities, partly at 2am, and not proof-read at all.
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Raccoons (0-0) @ Canadiens (0-0) – April 3-5, 2012

We were opening the season UP THERE, starting the season with a vile stench in our little black noses. Could go better than that! In any case, we had beaten the Elks three years in a row, including a 25-11 performance in the last two years combined.

Projected matchups:
Nick Brown (0-0) vs. Juichi Fujita (0-0)
Colin Baldwin (0-0) vs. Rod Taylor (0-0)
Shunyo Yano (0-0) vs. Brad Osborne (0-0)

And with that the Raccoons start the season facing three right-handed pitchers, with their only southpaw Johnny Krom sitting in the #4 slot in the rotation.

Game 1
POR: CF Castro – 2B Nomura – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – C D. Alexander – 3B Merritt – RF J. Alexander – SS Palmer – P Brown
VAN: CF Holland – 2B M. Austin – 1B Gilbert – LF Cameron – 3B Suzuki – SS Rice – C M. Thomas – RF Cavazos – P Fujita

Nick Brown struck out three besides walking Ray Gilbert in the first inning before things quickly went south. Mitsuhide Suzuki singled to start the bottom 2nd, the first hit in the game, and somehow it just went away from Brown at that point. With two outs, he hit Ramiro Cavazos, then walked Juichi Fujita to load the bases with two outs. The top of the order came up again and torched him completely: 2-run double by Ross Holland, 2-run single by Mark Austin. Gilbert walked again before Don Cameron popped out to center. The Coons were down 4-0, with Yoshi Nomura hitting a solo shot to right center to get at least one run back in the top of the third. That was the Coons’ only hit as long as Nick Brown was in the game, which turned out to be six muddled innings, striking out eight, but walking four, and also allowing another single to Fujita. The Elks didn’t get any more runs, but four were already four too many. The Critters took back another run in the top 7th: Michael Palmer tripled with two outs and Seeley hit for Brown and singled to left to score him. Down 4-2 and facing Alvarado in the top 9th, a walk to Dylan Alexander brought up the tying run with nobody out. Sandy Sambrano ran for Alexander with the hope of staying out of a double play. Merritt drove a pitch hard to right, where it was caught by Cavazos. The unfair game of baseball rewarded a sorry chop by John Alexander with a single to shallow center, however, and the tying runs were on base, where they remained once Palmer grounded out to first, and Seeley grounded out to second. 4-2 Canadiens. Seeley (PH) 1-2, RBI;


With his eight strikeouts, Nick Brown reached 2,305 for his career. He now sits 14 behind 25th-all-time Steve Rogers, 15 behind 24th-place John Douglas, and 17 behind Kisho Saito’s franchise mark.

Game 2
POR: 2B Nomura – 3B Merritt – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – CF Seeley – C D. Alexander – RF J. Alexander – SS Palmer – P Baldwin
VAN: CF Holland – 2B M. Austin – 1B Gilbert – LF Cameron – 3B Suzuki – SS Rice – C M. Thomas – RF Cavazos – P R. Taylor

Another forgettable second inning saw a ground rule double by Gary Rice being followed up with a 2-run homer by ex-Coon Mark Thomas, and Rice would add a solo shot in the fourth inning to increase the distance. The Raccoons had one hit in four innings, and it took Rod Taylor going bonkers in the fifth to get them a chance. Seeley, Dylan Alexander, and Palmer all walked to load the bases with two outs, and then Taylor had his line picked apart with an RBI single by Colin Baldwin and a 2-run double hit by Yoshi, which tied the game, and then another double into the gap hit by Jon Merritt, granting the Coons a 5-3 lead, which grew to 6-3 on Quebell’s 2-out RBI single.

In a perfect world, Colin Baldwin had spun a few more innings of shutout ball, but he was no less awful than Taylor. His control was completely off, and the Elks also kept battering him. He was knocked out after four and two thirds in a 6-4 game with the tying runs on base after allowing five hits and four walks. Micah Steele came in, threw one pitch on which Mitsuhide Suzuki easily flew out to right, and stranded two. As did the Coons in the top 6th, and their lead wouldn’t rest easily. Mullins was assigned the bottom of the sixth, quickly got stuck and was bailed out by Sugano, who then also got the seventh, only to get stuck with two outs. Gilbert singled, Cameron did the same, and Law Rockburn barely escaped when Michael Palmer made a nice play on Suzuki’s slow grounder. Former Raccoon Luis Beltran pitched two innings for the Elks, striking out four Critters, while the Coons’ pen kept drifting and Mark Thomas homered again off Ron Thrasher in the bottom 8th, cutting the lead to a single run. Top 9th, Jayden Reed faced the Raccoons and Michael Palmer snipped a leadoff single to center. Bowen hit for Thrasher and struck out, but in the course of the at-bat, Reed’s 1-0 pitch was wild and allowed Palmer to reach second base. Yoshi then sent a ball into the gap that Don Cameron tried to catch soaring like a bird, but missed it and thumped into the ground for some comedic value. Yoshi had an RBI double that had no effect in the end as Angel Casas sat down the 1-2-3 batters without much fuss in the ninth. 7-5 Coons. Nomura 2-5, 2 2B, 3 RBI; Merritt 2-4, BB, 2 2B, 2 RBI; Palmer 2-3, BB; Castro (PH) 1-1;

Pat Slayton is the only reliever that didn’t get into this game.

Mark Thomas (…!) was the first CL player with two home runs on the season. In the FL that honor belonged to a certain Jose Morales.

Game 3
POR: CF Castro – 2B Nomura – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – RF Seeley – 3B Merritt – C Bowen – SS Palmer – P Yano
VAN: CF Holland – RF E. Garcia – 1B Gilbert – LF Cameron – 3B Suzuki – SS Rice – 2B M. Austin – C M. Thomas – P Osborne

Words had a hard time describing the amount of non-hitting that went on in this game – from both teams. Ray Gilbert’s fourth-inning single was the first hit for either side, and the collective shutout continued for a while. The first hit by a Raccoon was actually contributed by Yano himself, who reached on an infield single in the fifth inning against Osborne, who seemed to have tweaked some thing or other on the play because he was out of the game by the sixth inning. The display in the batter’s box that the Raccoons showed in particular was particularly gruesome. They faced not the best pitching in the world, and were completely silenced. The Elks weren’t. Holland led off the eighth inning with a single, stole second, and scored on Ray Gilbert’s single. Thrasher replaced Yano and barely got out of the inning before the Elks crushed him with the bases loaded. Top of the ninth, down 1-0, Alvarado pitching. Pruitt led off with a single to center, his first hit of the year, and after Quebell struck out it was Seeley with a double to right that gave the Raccoons a real chance to turn this one around. John Alexander took a bat and hit for Merritt, grounding a ball up the first base line that Gilbert and Alvarado both tried to pick and in the end nobody made a play, Alexander was safe, and Pruitt scored the tying run. Bowen struck out, but Palmer singled and the Raccoons were ahead, 2-1! After Dylan Alexander left runners on the corners, Angel Casas took over, but lacked stuff. Jaylin Lawrence represented the tying run after a 1-out single up the middle, got forced out by Holland, but Palmer couldn’t turn the double play. Enrique Garcia singled to left center, which brought up Gilbert, who had worn out the Raccoons to a .625/.769/.625 tune in this series, was down 1-2 with two outs and then grounded hard to left – Gutierrez diving, stops it, throw to second – in time!! 2-1 Critters. J. Alexander (PH) 1-1; Yano 7.1 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 2 K and 1-2;

Raccoons (2-1) vs. Falcons (2-1) – April 6-8, 2012

The Falcons had taken two of three from the Knights to start the season and led the league in stolen bases, but their starting pitchers had been shackled in that series. We had taken the season series the last two years, both times close 5-4 affairs.

Projected matchups:
Bill Conway (0-0) vs. Dave Beebe (0-0)
Hector Santos (0-0) vs. Adrian Valencia (0-0)
Nick Brown (0-1, 6.00 ERA) vs. Max Shepherd (0-0, 6.00 ERA)

Valencia is their only southpaw, but they had an off day on Thursday that would allow them to skip him and bring Alfredo Collazo (0-0, 5.63 ERA) into the series, which would be another righty.

Game 1
CHA: 2B J. Hernandez – CF J. Garcia – C F. Chavez – 1B Valenzuela – LF Jimenez – 3B Ladd – RF Rincón – SS Reeve – P Beebe
POR: 2B Nomura – 3B Merritt – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – CF Seeley – C D. Alexander – RF J. Alexander – SS Palmer – P Conway

Dave Beebe, originally an eighth-round pick by the Capitals in 2006, would make his major league debut against the Raccoons.

The Falcons were close to breaking up Conway in the very first inning. He retired Julio Hernandez and Jaime Garcia before Fernando Chavez singled. Then he walked one, another one, oops, wild pitch, and another walk, before David Rincón was retired by Quebell with a true Gold Glover’s grab to mercifully keep the score at 1-0 Falcons. Then Beebe surrendered his first major league home run on his sixth pitch, and again it was Yoshi Nomura to clobber one, his second of the season. Conway never stopped being completely bananas in this game, and was on six walks by the third inning, which also ended with three Falcons stranded when Ron Reeve struck out. The tie would be broken in the bottom 3rd, when Dylan Alexander reduced Yoshi Nomura’s share of team home runs to under 100% with a 2-out, 3-run bomb to left, and no doubt about that one. Beebe was also at five walks after issuing free passes to John Alexander and Palmer in the same inning, and he walked two more en route to loading the bases in the fourth, but this time Dylan popped out to end the inning.

April’s constant companion then visited: rain by the fifth inning. Conway just barely completed five to be eligible for the win, and there was a 47-minute delay. Beebe was sent back out by his cruel manager, John Alexander singled, stole second, and scored on Palmer’s double, which brought the curtain down for the 24-year old rookie. Slayton pitched two scoreless innings while Juan Carlos Bojorquez hit two Coons in the bottom 6th, but they took the best revenge there was and scored those runs, plus one more, mainly via a 2-run single by Palmer. The rout was on by the seventh, the third 3-spot the Coons threw up in the game, this one sponsored by triples hit by Sandy Sambrano and Jason Seeley. 11-1 Raccoons! Nomura 3-5, BB, HR, 2 RBI; Sambrano (PH) 1-2, 3B; Quebell 3-5, 2B, RBI; D. Alexander 1-3, HR, 4 RBI; J. Alexander 2-2, 3 BB; Palmer 3-4, BB, 2B, 3 RBI; Slayton 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K; Mullins 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K;

Game 2
CHA: CF DeBoer – 2B J. Hernandez – C F. Chavez – 1B Valenzuela – LF Jimenez – 3B Ladd – RF J. Garcia – SS Reeve – P Valencia
POR: 2B Nomura – 3B Merritt – 1B Quebell – LF Seeley – RF Ayers – SS Palmer – CF Sambrano – C Bowen – P Santos

Santos was strafed in time for two runs on two doubles in the first inning, and another three runs on three hits and two walks in the second. The early Falcons outburst was hardly countered by Quebell’s first homer of the year, a solo shot in the first. Hector got his **** together after that early barrage and lasted six innings, striking out seven, but the damage had already been done in sufficient numbers. The Coons didn’t look much like a comeback for a long time before they did load the bases in the bottom of the sixth on singles by Quebell and Seeley and a walk issued to Palmer with one out. Pablo Sanchez replaced Valencia at this point, a right-hander that had been charred for three runs in one third of an inning on Friday. The Coons scored two on a Sambrano single up the middle and a Bowen sac fly before John Alexander hit for Santos and fouled out on a 3-1 pitch. The Falcons were quick to restore a run when Chavez homered off Kyle Mullins in the top 7th, giving them a 6-3 advantage. While Rockburn and Sugano pitched scoreless ball from there on, the Raccoons would not set another paw on base against Alex Ramirez and Matt Collins. 6-3 Falcons. Quebell 2-4, HR, RBI; Sambrano 2-4, RBI;

I don’t really like the way our pen has to pitch three innings per game… The only guy so far to get somebody out in the seventh has been Shunyo Yano.

Game 3
CHA: CF DeBoer – 2B J. Hernandez – 1B Valenzuela – 3B Ladd – LF Jimenez – RF A. Solís – SS Reeve – C T. Turner – P Shepherd
POR: CF Castro – 2B Nomura – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – C D. Alexander – SS Palmer – RF J. Alexander – 3B M. Gutierrez – P Brown

Facing the second-place finisher in the 2011 FL Pitcher of the Year voting, the CL’s third-place finisher in the 2011 Pitcher of the Year voting had to buckle down and improve on his start on Opening Day.

The Coons got an early start against Shepherd, who sat down Castro and Nomura but then allowed a double to Pruitt and a long one to Quebell, who tied Yoshi for the team lead with two bombs. Movement again with two outs in the bottom 2nd, as Castro and Nomura hit singles to go to the corners, where Pruitt stranded them this time. All the Coons’ efforts were limited to 2-out situations, but they got another run in the fifth on a 2-out double by Pruitt and Quebell’s subsequent single. At that point, Brownie was pitching a shutout despite the stuff not being there at all. Through six he had three strikeouts, but had only allowed one hit, a leadoff single by Turner in the third. Wes Ladd had also drawn a leadoff walk in the second, and that was about it for the Falcons through six. Ladd had another leadoff walk in a full count in the top 7th, but got double up on Jose Jimenez’ grounder to Michael Palmer. For much of the game the Falcons didn’t get the ball out of the infield, hitting grounders to Palmer and Gutierrez over and over, and when PH Jaime Garcia hit a fly to Tomas Castro with two down in the eighth it came as a mild shock. That was still the third out, and Brownie sat at 97 pitches through eight, which made a go at a shutout possible, but Jimmy DeBoer and Julio Hernandez both hit singles to start the ninth inning and that created a tricky situation for Angel Casas, who surely would have loved to come in earlier, and who so far had no strikeouts this season. He struck out Chavez before pinch-hitter César Aguilar gave the first pitch he saw a really good ride to deep right, but that ball ended up with John Alexander on the warning track. Jimenez also struck out. 3-0 Brownies! Nomura 2-4; Pruitt 2-4, 2 2B; Quebell 2-4, HR, 3 RBI; Brown 8.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 5 K, W (1-1);

With these five strikeouts, Kisho Saito’s franchise mark should be safe for another start. Brownie is 12 back of the big 2,322 target. On the all-time list, 25th Steve Rogers (9) and 24th John Douglas (10) are more in reach with a strong showing against the Loggers next Friday. Not that this was a bad start! He didn’t have the murder staff, but he fed grounder upon grounder to the defense, which also works well, as we’ve seen.

Raccoons (4-2) vs. Knights (2-4) – April 9-11, 2012

The Knights had batted for just a .232 average out of the game, 11th in the CL, but had still scored the fifth-most runs with 21 counters to their credit. That turned out to be only 3.5 per game, and offense had been at a premium in the CL in the first week with a 3.76 league ERA. Their pitching was average so far, allowing the sixth-most runs. We had a 6-year run of taking the season series going, including back-to-back 6-3 performances.

Projected matchups:
Colin Baldwin (0-0, 7.71 ERA) vs. Kurt Doyle (0-0, 3.86 ERA)
Shunyo Yano (0-0, 1.23 ERA) vs. Ted McKenzie (0-0, 1.59 ERA)
Bill Conway (1-0, 1.80 ERA) vs. Shaun Yoder (0-0, 1.17 ERA)

Three righties here, as their only southpaw Dave Butler went on Sunday.

Game 1
ATL: RF Arnette – SS Hibbard – LF M. Reyes – 3B C. Martinez – 1B J. Garcia – 2B Hilderbrand – CF Kelsey – C Delgado – P Doyle
POR: LF Castro – 2B Nomura – 1B Pruitt – CF Seeley – SS Palmer – C D. Alexander – 3B Merritt – RF J. Alexander – P Baldwin

Baldwin in his second start of the year continued to be simply off, not hitting the corners, not getting anybody to swing and miss, and instead surrendered pretty fat contact repeatedly, which saw the Knights rush out to a 3-0 lead on a 2-run homer by Marty Reyes in the first and a solo job by Jorge Garcia the second time through. The Coons had no hits the first time through their order, but the bottom 4th brought Yoshi drawing a leadoff walk before Pruitt singled to right. The tying run was up in Jason Seeley, whose grounder to first was botched by Garcia, loading the bases with nobody out. Palmer lined out to left, keeping everybody pinned, before a passed ball on Carlos Delgado scored Yoshi. Dylan Alexander walked before Merritt singled past Garcia’s limited range, 3-2, but here John Alexander struck out and Baldwin popped out to short, but the game got tied in the bottom 5th when Yoshi and Pruitt were on again and Palmer’s 2-out single to left scored Nomura with the tying run, 3-3.

Bottom 6th, Merritt walked, John Alexander singled. Baldwin bunted them into scoring position, and while Castro struck out, the Raccoons broke through anyway with a 2-run single to Yoshi, and then, after a pitching change, Matt Pruitt romped his first long ball of the season off reliever Jim Baker, putting the Critters ahead 7-3! It got even worse for the Knights in the bottom of the seventh, where Baker put two men on and Quebell hit a 2-out, 2-run single while hitting for Baldwin. Down by six, the Knights briefly had a faint chance at a comeback in the eighth, when Manobu Sugano faced Pat Arnette and Bill Miller, allowed a single and a walk, then left, but Law Rockburn got three outs before damage could be incurred by the Coons. The Knights’ Lawrence Rivers walked three in the bottom 8th, conceding a tack-on run on a Dylan Alexander sac fly. 10-3 Brownshirts! Nomura 1-2, 3 BB, 2 RBI; Pruitt 3-4, HR, 2 RBI; J. Alexander 2-4, 2B; Quebell (PH) 1-1, 2 RBI;

We have 16 straight games without an off day to start the season, so everybody will get a day of rest at some point. In fact, the only guy who hasn’t been rested so far is Yoshi, who gets the day off on Tuesday for the middle game.

Game 2
ATL: RF Arnette – CF Kelsey – LF M. Reyes – 1B J. Garcia – 3B C. Martinez – SS Hibbard – C Ledesma – 2B Hilderbrand – P McKenzie
POR: CF Castro – 3B Merritt – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – SS Palmer – RF J. Alexander – C Bowen – 2B M. Gutierrez – P Yano

Shunyo Yano made his first Portland start with a pretty grim weather forecast on hand and under clouds that were only waiting for him to start throwing to open up. So we were in a hurry; Yano retired the Knights in order the first time through, striking out four, while the Raccoons took the lead in the first on a Pruitt double and Quebell RBI single. Two innings later, Pruitt was pretty thick in it again, with Castro and Merritt on base ahead of him. Matt clanked a 2-run triple off the wall in right center to open the score to 3-0 and scored on a groundout by Palmer. With two out, the Coons would load the bases on another pair of singles and a walk to Gutierrez, but when Yano came to the plate in this scenario, it was already raining. Yano struck out, then allowed two singles in the top 4th, plus a hard drive by Carlos Martinez to deep center that Castro just barely scratched out of the moist air. The Coons continued to crowd McKenzie, who expended 94 pitches through 3 1/3 innings and was removed with two men on and no hopes of getting out. Jim Baker got out for him, as the Raccoons stranded three runners in the inning.

On-and-off rain got heavier by the fifth inning, when the tarp briefly came onto the infield, but was lifted after a quarter of an hour when the rain was reduced to a drizzle. The Coons stranded three runners again in that inning, and they could have had the Knights wailing in a corner by now. At least Yano went seven scoreless, being hit for with Seeley in the bottom 7th with Bowen and Gutierrez on the corners and nobody out. Dave Shannon walked Jason in a full count, loading them up for the top of the order, Castro struck out, but Merritt got hit with a pitch to force in a run – hooray! Ray Conner replaced Shannon an in just six pitches allowed another three runs to three batters with a Pruitt single, a Quebell sac fly, and then a Palmer single running the score to 8-0. Sugano again put two left-handers on base in the top of the eighth, with Micah Steele providing only partial relief, loading the sacks with a walk to Marty Reyes before he conceded a run on a Garcia single to right. That scored one run for the Knights, leaving the Raccoons still up by seven, and that was before they exploited Ed Bryan, their former no-good left-handed reliever, and two Knights errors in the bottom of the eighth to throw up another 4-spot to complete a rout. 12-1 Greycoats! Castro 2-6, 2 RBI; Merritt 1-2, 2 BB, 2 RBI; Pruitt 4-6, 3B, 2B, 4 RBI; Bowen 3-4, BB, 2 2B; Yano 7.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K, W (1-0);

In these two games combined, Knights pitching struck out seven Critters, but walked EIGHTEEN. I think, they have an issue with their staff…

The Crusaders got clobbered by the Thunder, 11-6, this Tuesday, allowing the 6-2 Raccoons to take over a solitary lead in the division for the first time this year. We had already tied them for a few days before that.

Game 3
ATL: RF Arnette – CF Kelsey – LF M. Reyes – 3B C. Martinez – SS Hibbard – C Ledesma – 1B G. Munoz – 2B Hilderbrand – P Yoder
POR: 2B Nomura – 3B Merritt – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – CF Seeley – C D. Alexander – SS Palmer – RF J. Alexander – P Conway

Shaun Yoder walked Nomura and Merritt in the first inning, but the Coons didn’t get anybody in, and from there the attention largely shifted on the grisly mistreatment the Knights’ lineup gave Bill Conway, who was walking people left and right AND allowed monstrously hard contact, and those two things didn’t mesh too well with another. Carlos Martinez and T.J. Hilderbrand both homered in a 4-run second inning, and the Knights extended their lead to 6-1 by the fourth inning on a few doubles. What would the Coons do sitting in a 5-run hole?

Bottom 6th, Quebell grounded out to Hilderbrand before Seeley whiffed. That was the last out that Yoder got. Both Alexanders and Palmer in between hit singles off him, getting the Coons to 6-2 with runners on the corners. Sandy Sambrano hit for Slayton, who had been in for long relief, lined a pitch to deep center where John Kelsey misplayed it into a 2-run double, then scored on Yoshi’s third single of the game. Merritt got hit by Yoder, before Shannon came in and struck out Pruitt, but the Critters were back at 6-5 after that 4-run barrage. Unfortunately they were then about to fall into the same trapdoor of shoddy fielding and pitching again. Thrasher was assigned the top 7th, thrashed Carlos Delgado with a pitch on his fat butt, then got a grounder to third from Jorge Garcia that Merritt threw wildly and pulled Quebell off the bag. Two on, Bill Miller hit for Kelsey, but grounded into a double play that left Delgado at third, where he remained when Reyes struck out. Seeley got on in the bottom 7th, but never past first base, yet after Thrasher put up another scoreless inning the bottom 8th was opened by a John Alexander double to center – he was the tying run, but was left on third when Bryan struck out Sambrano, Yoshi grounded out, and Merritt whiffed against Rivers. Bottom 9th, Patrick Mercier reduced the Coons to two outs in a hurry before Seeley drove a ball to deep right – stretch! stretch! GO! No, Garcia got it against the wall. 6-5 Knights. Nomura 3-4, BB, RBI; Palmer 2-4; J. Alexander 3-4, 2B, RBI; Sambrano (PH) 1-2, 2B, 2 RBI; Thrasher 2.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K;

Ugh, so close!! This was the first game in which the Raccoons actually made errors in 2011; Quebell dropped a foul pop early in the game for the first E of the season.

Raccoons (6-3) @ Loggers (5-3) – April 12-15, 2012

The Loggers were one stupid game away from taking the lead in the CL North, and somehow they had so far allowed the least runs in the Continental League (25!), despite their pitching staff being largely composed of reclamation projects, donations and a prayer or two. The offense was tied for seventh with 35 runs scored. We went 9-9 against the Loggers in ’11, but we haven’t lost the season series since leaving the cellar of constant losing in ’07.

Projected matchups:
Hector Santos (0-1, 7.50 ERA) vs. Gil McDonald (0-0, 1.69 ERA)
Nick Brown (1-1, 2.57 ERA) vs. Ramón Huertas (1-0, 3.86 ERA)
Colin Baldwin (1-0, 5.40 ERA) vs. Fernando Cruz (0-1, 3.65 ERA)
Shunyo Yano (1-0, 0.63 ERA) vs. Gabriel Caro (2-0, 0.53 ERA)

… and just look at that opening matchup! That one cries out 8-1 loss all the way! Cruz will be the second left-handed pitcher we see this year. And thankfully nobody noticed earlier that Michael Palmer hadn’t had an off day so far…

Game 1
POR: 2B Nomura – 3B Merritt – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – CF Seeley – RF J. Alexander – SS M. Gutierrez – C Bowen – P Santos
MIL: LF Knowling – SS Luján – RF Dally – CF Locke – 1B Roncero – C R. Hernandez – 3B F. Cuevas – 2B Sandoval – P McDonald

The Raccoons made some offensive mistakes early on, with Merritt erasing Yoshi on a double play in the first inning and getting caught stealing in the third just before Pruitt doubled. The Coons still scored two early, including a Quebell sac fly that plated Pruitt in the third. Santos struck out five consecutive batters between the second and third innings before Zach Knowling hit a double, but was stranded. Philip Locke hit a 1-out triple in the first which didn’t faze Santos much, as he struck out Silvestro Roncero (#8 on the day!) before Raúl Hernandez fouled out behind Bowen.

Santos, twice through the order, maintained a 3-hit shutout with nine strikeouts. Knowling led off the sixth and for the second time tried to bunt his way on, and for the second time it didn’t work. Justin Dally would take a 2-out walk, the Loggers’ first, before Locke went down in flames, Santos’ 10th strikeout, but by the seventh inning things turned against the Coons. Merritt hit a 2-out triple in the top 7th but couldn’t be brought home by Pruitt, with the lead remaining 2-0. Bottom 7th, Santos got one more out before Hernandez singled and Cuevas got drilled with an 0-2 pitch. That was it for Hector, with the left-handed Amari Brissett announced as pinch-hitter Thrasher took over. Brissett and Suketsune Ito both were thrown in the trash, ending the seventh with the tying runs on base. Thrasher also faced Knowling to start the eighth, who this time hit a proper single. Steele replaced Thrasher against his old team and sat down the next three Loggers to end this frame. A stomach-twisting throwing error by Pat Hanson got the Coons’ leadoff man Gutierrez on base in the top of the ninth and the Critters shoved him in for a potentially critical insurance run, giving Angel Casas a 3-run lead for the bottom of the ninth. But hey, it’s Angel! Nobody reached, and two struck out to put this one in the books. 3-0 Raccoons! Pruitt 2-4, BB, 3B, 2B; Seeley 3-4, 2B; Castro (PH) 1-1; Santos 6.1 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 10 K, W (1-1);

Game 2
POR: CF Castro – 2B Nomura – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – RF Seeley – SS Palmer – C D. Alexander – 3B Merritt – P Brown
MIL: LF Knowling – SS Luján – RF Dally – CF Locke – 2B Sandoval – C R. Hernandez – 3B Ito – 1B Roncero – P Huertas

Both teams got the leadoff man on, and both guys were caught stealing. In Zach Knowling’s case, he reached on a pop that came right Merritt’s way, and Merritt had it drop two feet in front of him. Nick Brown’s look said it all. Can we finally get a slick-fielding third baseman, or at least one that cuts down on the stupid errors? Oh no, they couldn’t, and it got worse at an alarming rate. They left runners on first and third in the top 2nd before Brown got waffled in the bottom of the inning, with a Pruitt error involved as well as just bad pitching. The Loggers had two outs and runners on second and third after Pruitt’s numbening mistake in left, and Roncero at the plate. He was a left-hander and Brownie should be able to handle him well. Roncero hit a hard grounder to right, Yoshi with a diving grab kept it in front of him, throw to first – SAFE. NO! Yes, safe. Huertas and Knowling both hit hard singles, and the Loggers took a 3-0 lead, all runs earned in the end. And it yet got worse. Bottom 3rd, Brown started with a K to Dally, before Philip Locke’s grounder glanced off Quebell’s glove and into the outfield, generously scored a hit. Oscar Sandoval hit an infield single that Palmer couldn’t dig out, but a pop and a grounder to Yoshi allowed Brown to get out of the inning.

The Coons couldn’t do anything with the crummy Huertas for five innings before Castro and Nomura went to the corners with nobody out in the top 6th. Pruitt batted as the tying run with two more power lefties to come, but Pruitt killed the inning on the first pitch he saw with a run-scoring double play and the Loggers took that run right back in the bottom of the inning, Brown’s last, but despite being down 4-1 and the team largely clueless so far, he would not take the loss. Huertas was still on it, and was bombed by Seeley to start the top 7th. Palmer singled before Huertas got two outs. John Alexander hit for Brown and hit a liner into the right corner, an RBI triple! He was the tying run, and Castro dinked a bloop into shallow left to tie the game! The Coons used three pitchers to get three outs in the bottom 7th in a tied game, with Rockburn striking out Daniel Sharp to end that inning.

The Critters had a chance in the top of the ninth when Dylan Alexander got drilled by Tim Poe to start the inning. Sambrano ran for him, but was caught stealing. Nobody scored as Steele held the Loggers at bay to get to the tenth inning in the 4-4 tie. Poe was still in, and the Raccoons got an even better chance with a leadoff walk drawn by Yoshi. Pruitt, who had made the third out in the top 7th with two men on, now came through with a double into the rightfield corner, and the Raccoons had two men in scoring position. Quebell was walked intentionally to load the bags, and Seeley struck out. Palmer lined a pitch to short but Antonio Luján JUST missed it! It was into left, and Yoshi scored the go-ahead run! That was all they got as Sambrano struck out and when Ayers hit for an 0-for-4 Jon Merritt, he flew out to deep left. Oh well, bring Angel! Luján struck out, Dally grounded out, Brissett grounded out – ballgame! 5-4 Raccoons! Castro 3-4, RBI; Palmer 3-5, RBI; J. Alexander (PH) 1-1, 3B, RBI; Bowen (PH) 1-1;

Game 3
POR: 2B Nomura – 3B Merritt – 1B Pruitt – LF Seeley – CF Sambrano – SS Palmer – RF Ayers – C Bowen – P Baldwin
MIL: LF Knowling – SS Luján – RF Dally – CF Locke – 2B Sandoval – 3B Sharp – C R. Hernandez – 1B Roncero – P F. Cruz

A Jason Seeley sac fly gave the Raccoons a 1-0 lead in the top of the first before Colin Baldwin had a 36-pitch first inning of his own. He made a throwing error, walked two, but struck out three and nobody scored, with Daniel Sharp going down looking to end the inning. Another tight spot developed in the bottom of the fourth inning, with runners on the corners and nobody out. Sharp struck out again, Raúl Hernandez went down whiffing as well, and Roncero then grounded out to Pruitt, the Coons remaining up 1-0. Their lineup didn’t do a lot, while Baldwin kept wobbling through, but in the bottom 6th Jon Merritt made another throwing error that put the leadoff man on base with nobody out. Baldwin didn’t recover from that, Oscar Sandoval doubled home Dally with the tying run, and Baldwin left the game in a 1-1 tie and two men on after Hernandez walked with two outs. Sugano got the third out from Roncero, a nasty fly to right that ended up with Ayers, thankfully.

Top 7th, Ayers could have followed up his strong play with a hit, but struck out. Bowen drew a walk, John Alexander, batting for Sugano, struck out. Yoshi then rammed a bouncer to third, too fast for Sharpie to make a play and it was all the way to the wall! Bowen had the rocket between his buttocks lit by remote control to fire him all the way around the bases and he scored ahead of Zach Knowling’s throw! RBI double by Yoshi Nomura! Unfortunately, Merritt couldn’t come up with anything, and in the bottom of the inning Kyle Mullins was turned upside down. He hit PH Pedro Estrada to start the inning and Knowling reached on an infield single. Dally singled in the tying run, and Locke brought in the go-ahead run as the Loggers took a 3-2 lead. The Loggers sent lefty Jose Rivera into the top of the eighth, with Pruitt and Seeley up first to start the inning. Pruitt singled hard to right, and Seeley hit a hard one to deep left, and Knowling couldn’t reach it. Double, runners on second and third with nobody out for the Coons! Sandy Sambrano struck out against right-hander Richard Williams, Palmer popped out to third. That brought up Ayers, who had made nothing but outs since the season started. No! Quebell batted for him, with Kevin Cummings, another left-hander replacing Williams. Down to two strikes, Quebell jabbed a bouncer into play, up the middle, past Fernando Cuevas AND INTO CENTER!! Pruitt in to score! Seeley in to score! Coons have the lead! Law was in for the bottom of the eighth, with the Loggers’ Hernandez reaching with a floating leadoff single. Despite not much in terms of stuff, Law got through the inning, with two outs to Sambrano in deep center. The Raccoons stranded two runners in the top ninth when Cummings struck out Seeley, leaving Ron Thrasher to protect a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the inning. Angel Casas had pitched two days in a row – and he wasn’t going to pitch three days in a row in April due to historical reasons, plus three of the first four batters up in the bottom 9th were left-handers. Henry McClendon was not a left-handed batter, but was up first and grounded hard to Merritt, who made a strong throw to JUST nip McClendon at first base! Dally and Locke then struck out. 4-3 Furballs!! Nomura 2-4, BB, 2B, RBI; Pruitt 2-4, BB; Quebell (PH) 1-1, 2 RBI; Baldwin 5.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 7 K and 1-1;

That was … that was a really tense game! Ugh, I’m sweating! This team surely has some bite to it early on!

Game 4
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – CF Seeley – RF J. Alexander – C D. Alexander – 3B Merritt – P Yano
MIL: C R. Hernandez – SS Luján – RF Dally – CF Locke – 3B Sharp – 1B Roncero – LF P. Estrada – 2B Sandoval – P Caro

The Coons had the bases loaded in the first: Yoshi had walked to start the game, Palmer singled, and Quebell drew a 4-pitch walk. Seeley and John Alexander both hit balls quite hard to the right side, but both were intercepted and nobody scored. The Loggers had a single from Dally and a double from Locke to put two men in scoring position. Daniel Sharp grounded to Palmer – and Palmer blew it. The Loggers took a 1-0 lead on the error. And if that was already painful, it got yet worse in the second inning. Estrada and Sandoval were both down to two strikes when they both singled to center. Caro got them over into scoring position, from where they scored on a passed ball and a balk. Loggers 3, Raccoons 0. Of the three runs, six were unearned.

Earned runs followed soon, with Philip Locke knocking a 2-run homer in the bottom 3rd, and after that Yano walked two, and Merritt made another grisly error to plate the Loggers’ sixth run. The Coons weren’t going to pick this one out of the trash. They had two on in the top 4th when Dylan Alexander hit into a double play, and while we tried to get any length at all out of Yano, he had absolutely nothing. The Loggers opened the bottom 5th with singles by Roncero, Estrada, and Sandoval to load the bases. Pat Slayton took over, and with the way our pen had been squeezed Slayton had to know that NOBODY was going to rescue him if he got into some **** or other. The Loggers knew that, too, and they tore him up right in the fifth inning, turning on a painful rout. Caro and Luján hit sac flies with a walk to Hernandez in between, and then Dally and Locke had hard base hits to score three more runs. That got the Loggers up to 11-0. The best the hapless Coons managed to do were back-to-back homers by John Alexander and Tomas Castro in the top of the ninth to ruin Caro’s line and shutout bid. 11-2 Loggers. Palmer 2-4; Castro (PH) 1-1, HR, RBI;

Whatever I said about this team having bite, I will take it all back. They had double lunch, and that was it.

In other news

April 2 – DAL 1B/3B Dennis Berman (.400, 0 HR, 0 RBI) takes his 19-game hitting streak from the end of 2011, and contributes two hits in the Stars’ 3-2 win over the Gold Sox to reach 20 games.
April 4 – New York’s C Gabriel Ortíz (.385, 0 HR, 0 RBI) has three hits in the Crusaders’ 5-3 win over the Indians, including his 2,000th career hit, a second inning single off Román Escobedo.
April 6 – PIT SS Tom McWhorter, who suffered an injury on Opening Day without getting even an at-bat, is reported to have broken his thumb and will miss a month.
April 8 – DAL 1B/3B Dennis Berman (.458, 0 HR, 3 RBI) has his 24-game hitting streak come to an end in an 8-3 win over the Capitals, in which he goes 0-for-2 with two walks.
April 10 – The Crusaders announce that their CF Roberto Pena (.235, 0 HR, 3 RBI) has been placed on the DL with a broken wrist and won’t be back before the latter half of May.
April 10 – MIL SP Gabriel Caro (2-0, 0.53 ERA) 3-hits the Bayhawks in a 4-0 shutout.
April 11 – VAN 1B Ray Gilbert (.471, 2 HR, 6 RBI) tears down the Falcons almost on his own in an 11-4 Canadiens win, ripping five hits, including a double and two homers off Dave Beebe and Larry Cutts, driving in three runs.
April 11 – It’s a 20-game hitting streak for OCT INF/LF Dave McCormick (.436, 2 HR, 12 RBI) after three hits in a 5-3 win over the Crusaders!
April 12 – It’s a hitting streak no more for Oklahoma’s McCormick (.405, 2 HR, 12 RBI), who goes 0-for-3 in a 2-0 win over the Falcons. The Thunder have yet to lose a ballgame.
April 12 – Pittsburgh’s 1B/3B Marc Williams (.292, 0 HR, 1 RBI) lands on the DL with shoulder inflammation. The 28-year old might miss two months.
April 12 – NYC LF Martin Ortíz (.351, 1 HR, 8 RBI) agrees to a 2-yr, $6.8M contract extension with the Crusaders.

Complaints and stuff

Nick Brown remains in 26th place in the all-time strikeout list, but his deficit is down to three against Steve Rogers and four against John Douglas, as well as six behind Kisho Saito for the franchise record.

We’ve certainly seen almost everything so far, a few laughers, a few nail biters, and an ugly rout. But hey, first place is first place. We are on a 2-week road trip and on the way to Boston. The Crusaders will not come across our way until two weeks from now.

Early words from the farm. Ricardo Carmona is batting .360/.407/.520 in AAA. Jimmy Fucito’s OPS is over 1. Rich Hood had a scoreless start. Daniel Price is hitting .412 in Aumsville. However, that’s all after just one week of play. But, mmm, Carmona. Yummy, yummy. Can’t wait to break my head over how to make room for him on the roster.
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Raccoons (9-4) @ Titans (6-6) – April 16-18, 2012

The Titans had started out the season 6-6, as had most of the division. Two weeks in, they ranked fifth in runs scored and ninth in runs allowed; neither the starting pitching nor the relief pitching was managing to achieve better than a 4.70 ERA. We have won the season series the last four years, with back-to-back 10-8 seasons most recently.

Projected matchups:
Bill Conway (1-1, 6.10 ERA) vs. Chester Graham (1-1, 2.40 ERA)
Hector Santos (1-1, 3.65 ERA) vs. Alex Lindsey (0-2, 12.46 ERA)
Nick Brown (1-1, 3.60 ERA) vs. Melvin Andrade (1-1, 4.50 ERA)

This series will start with a southpaw from the Titans, with two righties after that. We are looking forward to Thursday, our first off day.

Game 1
POR: 2B Sambrano – SS Palmer – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – 3B Merritt – CF Seeley – C Bowen – RF Ayers – P Conway
BOS: 2B J. Ramirez – LF J. Flores – RF R. Garcia – C Suda – CF J. Gusmán – 1B Hayashi – SS K. Sato – 3B E. Salazar – P C. Graham

Conway started out struggling, as did the lineup. The Titans threw two runs onto the board quickly, getting four hits and a walk off Conway in two innings. The Raccoons popped out three times in the top 1st, had two singles to start the second inning and then nothing, and a Sambrano double with one out in the third that didn’t lead to anything, either. But by the middle innings, things settled down quite a bit and even improved. Conway held the fort, and the Raccoons rallied from their 2-0 deficit. Seeley hit a 2-out single in the fourth, stole his first base of the year, then scored on Craig Bowen’s single, and the following inning Sambrano got on again with a 1-out single, then scored on Michael Palmer’s double off the wall in left. That gave us a 2-2 tie, and the go-ahead run in scoring position, where it didn’t remain for long. Chester Graham threw a pretty fat pitch to Pruitt at 1-0, and Pruitt didn’t even get all of it, but still rammed a really hard double into the rightfield corner, giving the Critters the lead. Pruitt became stranded, though, and Conway’s recuperation phase ended in the bottom of the inning. Edgar Salazar already made a hard out to start the inning, and then Conway was at 3-0 on the pitcher, who then doubled to center. Jesus Flores would whack away with a 2-run homer that flipped the score right back. Conway lingered through six, and when Law Rockburn took over he got bombed as well, with a 2-run homer by Jesus Ramirez putting the Coons away, and that was before another rat’s ass of an inning in the eighth, in which a grave throwing error by Craig Bowen put two Titans in scoring position with nobody out and Micah Steele just couldn’t cope. 7-4 Titans. Sambrano 2-5, 2B; Merritt 2-3, BB; Bowen 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI;

Our pitching has issues, it seems.

Game 2
POR: CF Castro – 2B Nomura – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – RF J. Alexander – SS Palmer – C D. Alexander – 3B Merritt – P Santos
BOS: 2B J. Ramirez – LF J. Flores – RF R. Garcia – C Suda – CF J. Gusmán – 1B Hayashi – SS K. Sato – 3B N. Chavez – P Lindsey

Issue pitching continued seamlessly in game 2, with Hector Santos getting smoked in a 3-run first inning. Jesus Flores and Hideaki Suda hit singles, then he walked Javier Gusmán and Tokimune Hayashi. Kunimatsu Sato singled in a pair, and that was that. There was a brief 2-run rally in the top 3rd by the Critters, which was soon superseded by more atrocities done to Santos in the bottom 3rd. The Titans just didn’t stop hitting him (and drawing walks…), had the bases loaded with one out and then got hits by Sato and Nelson Chavez (those ex-Coons…) to crush Santos beneath a 7-2 score, and it was only the third inning, and the bullpen was already completely broken.

The funny part was that the Raccoons almost rallied back against Alex Lindsey to take the lead in the fifth inning. Yoshi and Pruitt had 1-out singles, and with two outs the singles parade really took off, with both Alexanders and Palmer all contributing RBI singles. When Jon Merritt was at the plate, a passed ball moved up the runners and the Titans walked Merritt, the go-ahead run, onto the open base. Jason Seeley hit for the crushed Santos and struck out to keep the score at 7-5. Some rallies only get suspended, though. Top 6th, Lindsey still in there, and the Titans were begging for it. He drilled Yoshi, and they still left him in. Matt Pruitt’s rocket out of right center tied the game at seven, and Lindsey was finally gone, his ERA no better than what it had been at the start of the game. Unfortunately for the Coons, Sorry Slayton was in the game by default, and we were quite lucky that he could hold on to his own pants, but he couldn’t hold on to a tied game at all. Ricardo Garcia hit a 2-out RBI single in the bottom 6th, and Chavez added a 2-out RBI double in the seventh. Quebell opened the top 9th with a double off Tommy Wooldridge, which in a 9-7 game brought the tying run to the plate. John Alexander duly singled, advancing Quebell to third, and he scored on a wild pitch by Wooldridge, moving the tying run to second base with nobody out and Sambrano batting for Palmer. Sandy went from 0-2 to 3-2, then doubled to right, tying the score at nine (…!), and the Titans gave up right away and hauled in Wooldridge again. “Dodo” Iwase took over, and he stranded Sambrano with the go-ahead run with Merritt and Castro striking out. Great, more pitching needed! Kyle Mullins walked Kuni Sato with two outs in the bottom 9th, but the ex-Critter was caught stealing by Alexander to get us extra innings.

Iwase had a clean top 10th, the same couldn’t be said about Mullins, however. He walked Chavez and Juan Gutierrez to start the bottom of the inning. Ron Thrasher replaced him, got a pop from Jesus Rivera, a deep drive by (ex-Coon…) Freddy Rosa that Castro caught just barely with the tip of his glove, and then struck out Garcia. Thrasher also had to bat – and walked! – in the top of the 11th, but a leadoff double by Suda in the bottom of the inning soon sealed the Raccoons’ fate. Sato walked off the Titans with the winning single. 10-9 Titans. Nomura 2-5; Pruitt 2-6, HR, 3 RBI; Quebell 3-6, 2B, RBI; J. Alexander 3-6, RBI; Sambrano (PH) 1-2, RBI; D. Alexander 2-5, BB, RBI; Merritt 2-5;

(shakes head in disbelief)

Well, Nick. There is no pen available. You’re not getting out of that last game under 110 pitches. I would suggest a shutout or at least eight innings, since Angel, who would have been next in this miserable contest, will be available. Maybe Steele, but I don’t want you to slack off, so we need eight innings. Period.

Game 3
POR: CF Castro – 2B Nomura – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – SS Sambrano – RF Seeley – C D. Alexander – 3B Merritt – P Brown
BOS: CF J. Gusmán – 1B J. Gutierrez – RF R. Garcia – C Suda – LF Hayashi – SS E. Salazar – 2B K. Sato – 3B N. Chavez – P Andrade

The shutout went out of the window real early; Suda led off the bottom 2nd and popped up a 1-2 behind home plate. Dylan Alexander went wandering in the desert for a while trying to locate the ball, then had it glance off his glove, literally two feet behind the batter’s box. “Quasimodo” Suda, that hunchbacked bastard, homered on the next pitch and the Titans were 1-0 ahead. Brown was not too pleased with how this was going, but the Raccoons rallied for two runs in the top 3rd to take the lead. Brown himself opened the inning with a double to center after being denied a RISP opportunity when Merritt ended the top 2nd with a double play grounder, then scored on Yoshi’s single to left, who in turn came home on Quebell’s long double to right. In the bottom of the inning, Melvin Andrade struck out, Brown’s third K in the game and his ticket into a tie for 25th place all time in terms of strikeouts. It took almost an entire run through the lineup for him to get the next strikeout, Nelson Chavez to end the fifth with Sato on first, moving him up to t-24th.

At that point, the Raccoons had already stranded an absolutely criminal six runners in five innings, still up 2-1 after six, with Brownie whiffing Andrade to start the bottom of the inning – 2,321 – Gusmán flew out to right, Gutierrez walked, but then Garcia went down raking – 2,322! A perfect match for Kisho Saito!

Personal vanity aside, the Raccoons had the bases loaded in the top of the seventh, with nobody out. Castro grounded to Sato, who bungled the ball and Castro legged out his second attempt to pick and throw. A wild pitch moved up Castro and the Titans elected to walk Yoshi intentionally, with Pruitt walking by force after that. No big hit was coming forth as Quebell grounded to Sato in a full count, Sato went home and Castro was out. Sambrano then lined out to center, with Yoshi getting sent and barely making it safely across home plate. Jason Seeley admittedly did come up with an actual hit, an RBI single, 4-1, before D-Alex walked and Merritt hoppled out. While we were all eager for a quick new franchise mark, the baseball gods put the pain before the joy, and Suda and Hayashi both reached on entirely ****ty singles to start the bottom 7th. Then Salazar doubled through Quebell, 4-2, tying runs on second and third with nobody out. Well, Nick, I told you. There is nobody available! Here he struck out Sato to set the new franchise mark, before Chavez plated another run on a groundout. Al Martin – ex-Coons everywhere! – then grounded out to leave the Critters up by a run. Brown would make it through eight on 114 pitches and with the 4-3 lead standing. Angel Casas did what was expected of him and retired Suda, Jesus Flores, and Salazar in order. 4-3 Golden Brownies!! Nomura 2-4, BB, RBI; Quebell 3-5, 3 2B, RBI; D. Alexander 2-3, BB; Brown 8.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, W (2-1) and 1-4, 2B;

Browniiee…! (sobs with a smile)

Raccoons (10-6) @ Bayhawks (10-6) – April 20-22, 2012

Despite a strong 10-6 showing in the early going, the Bayhawks were a depressing 4.5 games out in the South, trailing the stomping Thunder. Here we faced the second-best offense in the league, with a pitching staff that tied for fourth place in runs allowed. The bullpen was much better than the middling rotation, however. We lost the season series in 2011, 4-5, the first such loss since 2006.

Projected matchups:
Colin Baldwin (1-0, 3.63 ERA) vs. Milt Beauchamp (1-1, 3.63 ERA)
Shunyo Yano (1-1, 3.93 ERA) vs. Felipe Ramirez (1-0, 3.21 ERA)
Bill Conway (1-2, 6.06 ERA) vs. Rodrigo Moreno (1-2, 6.75 ERA)

All right-handers for this set. Thankfully, the eight innings by Brownie on Wednesday and the off day on Thursday helped us to reset our bullpen almost completely. We have another off day on Monday, so if we could get some semi-decent pitching from the starters here, we might be fine into next week.

Ron “Monti” Alston was batting a pretty pedestrian .477/.541/.584 as this series began – lame!

Game 1
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – RF J. Alexander – CF Seeley – C D. Alexander – 3B M. Gutierrez – P Baldwin
SFB: CF Holt – SS J. Amador – RF Alston – LF J. Gomez – 1B Simmons – C A. Ramirez – 3B J. Rodriguez – 2B Brazeal – P Beauchamp

The Raccoons’ bottom of the order was up with runners on the corners and two outs in the second inning. To much surprise and the agony of the home crowd, Manuel Gutierrez and Colin Baldwin flicked a pair of singles, and three runs scored when some shoddy fielding and an ill-advised throw to third base by Jasper Holt added themselves to that. Pruitt, Quebell, and J-Alex would combine for a walk, a single, and a run-scoring groundout to up the score to 4-0 in the third. The Coons were surely seeing Beauchamp well, and a 2-run double by Pruitt in the fourth sent him showering early. Pruitt also came in to score on single by John Alexander, and it was 7-0 at that point. But just because Baldwin hadn’t allowed runs didn’t mean that the Bayhawks weren’t also hitting him well. In three innings, five outs were registered in the deep outfield. The Baybirds wouldn’t get onto the board until the fifth inning, however. Yoshi Nomura, who had driven in a run in the top 5th off Juan Maldonado, but committed a throwing error in the bottom of the inning that eventually cost Baldwin an unearned run, which was merely an introduction for the sixth inning, which Jesus Amador led off with a homer to left, 8-2. Alston and Jose Gomez then reached, and Javy Rodriguez tripled them in to cut the Coons’ once pleasant 8-0 lead into half. Baldwin was hit for in the top 7th, Ayers getting the assignment against lefty Mike Tharp with J-Alex on second base and two outs – he fell to 0-for-17 on the season. Mullins struck out the side in the seventh inning, but Sugano scuffled in the eighth and put two men on with one out. Steele replaced him, got a pop from Antonio Ramirez and then a grounder from Rodriguez to escape without a run scoring. That was the last scare, as Rockburn retired Omarion Thompson, Jasper Holt, and Jesus Amador in order in the ninth to end the game. 8-4 Critters. Pruitt 3-5, 2B, 2 RBI; Quebell 2-4, BB, 2B; J. Alexander 2-5, 2 RBI;

You’re up by eight, you think, okay, I can enjoy this one, but then it gets close again. But a win is a win is a win.

Game 2
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – LF Sambrano – 1B Pruitt – RF J. Alexander – CF Seeley – 3B Merritt – C Bowen – P Yano
SFB: CF Holt – SS J. Amador – RF Alston – LF J. Gomez – 1B Simmons – 3B J. Rodriguez – C A. Ramirez – 2B Brazeal – P F. Ramirez

Jon Merritt might want to apply for having his salary paid by the Baybirds. He hit into a depressing double play in the top 2nd, then committed a throwing error in the bottom of the inning that put runners on second and third with nobody out, and Yano wasn’t getting out of that one. Antonio Ramirez singled in both runners and the Birds took a 2-0 lead. Yano hit a leadoff double in the third inning, but wasn’t scored, and it wasn’t until the fourth inning that the Critters got on the board with a solo jack by John Alexander. The Bayhawks didn’t have many more hits against Yano through the middle innings. The Raccoons, whenever they got a chance, fluked out of it and remained 2-1 behind. Yano completed a 4-hit, 2-run performance over eight innings, but remained on the short end while right-hander Valentim Innocentes was to face the Raccoons’ Pruitt, John Alexander, and Seeley in the ninth inning. Those were three left-handed batters, and Pruitt was down at 0-2 before he could devour a cookie. He met the third pitch, however, and sent it soaring to right, past Alston, and off the rightfield wall for a leadoff double. Castro ran for him, but even he couldn’t score on Alexander’s rock-hard single to center that for a good bit looked like Holt might get it. Seeley struck out, Merritt actually lined out to Holt in center, and Castro twitched, but didn’t go, and Bowen grounded out to second base. 2-1 Bayhawks. Nomura 2-4; J. Alexander 3-4, HR, RBI; Yano 8.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, L (1-2) and 1-3, 2B;

Runner on third, nobody out, ********.


The Coons made a switch for the rubber game. We had a chance to skip either of Conway and Santos, two guys with a 6+ ERA over 16.1 innings, but at least Santos had a K/BB of 3.66 and Conway’s was barely 1.5. Maybe Santos had had more rotten luck than Conway so far and another start could get him turned around already.

Game 3
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – CF Castro – RF J. Alexander – C D. Alexander – 3B Merritt – P Santos
SFB: CF Holt – SS J. Amador – RF Alston – LF J. Gomez – 1B Simmons – 3B J. Rodriguez – C A. Ramirez – 2B Brazeal – P Moreno

Pruitt was robbed of an RBI double by Jasper Holt in the first, but John Alexander hit a solo home run off Rodrigo Moreno for the first run of the game in the top 2nd. Dylan Alexander also reached on a single past Rodriguez but was then caught up in Merritt’s third double play hit into in this series. Santos had a 4-pitch first inning, no hard contact, then drilled Jose Gomez at the start of the second and had battle hard to wiggle out of that. The Bayhawks didn’t get an actual hit until with two outs in the fourth, Gomez singling up the middle. Andrew Simmons added a single of his own, but Rodriugez bounced a ball back to Santos for the third out.

At that point, the Coons were up 2-0. Yoshi had hit a leadoff double in the third inning, and had moved around on groundouts. The Bayhawks got a run back in the bottom of the fifth, however, with Micah Brazeal drawing a walk and scoring from second base on Jasper Holt’s 3-2 single to left. Alston drew a leadoff walk in the bottom 6th but was caught up in a double play. Top 7th, both Alexanders were on base with one out, and Merritt hit into ANOTHER double play! Hnnngghh!! Santos got through seven, then was hit for with Sandy Sambrano leading off the eighth. Sambrano tripled just barely past the reach of Ron Alston, and if that was not enough for an insurance run … Yoshi was walked intentionally, after which Palmer singled to right, adding the Coons’ third run. With runners on first and second, Pruitt hit into yet another double play (pulling out hair over and over…) and Quebell fouled out. Thrasher got one out and Steele got two in the eighth inning, and in the top 9th Seeley made the first out against Tommy Briggs, batting for Castro, before both Alexanders reached base yet again. NO! Merritt was NOT going to bat here! Instead we sent GUTIERREZ, who lined to right, and right to Alston. Sambrano had replaced Pruitt in the field and was still in the #9 hole, another line to right, Alston hustling over to the line – can’t get it! Into the corner for a double, 4-1 Coons! Yoshi lined another pitch hard, this one to leftfield, but also left – err, right to Gomez for the third out. But at least that meant that Angel Casas got a turn at closing again, got a pop to short from Alston to start the inning, and while Simmons singled with two outs, Angel struck out Omarion Thompson to end this game. 4-1 Critters! Palmer 2-4, RBI; J. Alexander 2-3, BB, HR, RBI; D. Alexander 2-3; Sambrano (PH) 2-2, 3B, 2B, RBI; Santos 7.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, W (2-1);

In other news

April 16 – The Knights will be without INF/LF/RF Devin Hibbard (.213, 0 HR, 0 RBI) for a week. The 26-year old has suffered a shoulder subluxation.
April 17 – More bad news for the Knights, who lose 24-yr old OF Marty Reyes (.167, 1 HR, 3 RBI) to a strained back muscle. Reyes should be out for a month.

Complaints and stuff

The King of Strikeouts is dead – long live the King of Strikeouts! I’m so happy that I could live to see it …!

John Alexander went 10-19 with 2 HR and 5 RBI to earn Player of the Week honors! Will we get our money’s worth with him? On the other hand, who would have expected Jon Merritt’s contract to turn so sour so soon? Batting .210/.351/.274 is bad enough, seven double plays hit into in three weeks is shocking, but five errors and a -1.4 ZR makes him a bit of a nuisance.

Oh well, at least that contract only runs through 2014.

.388/.415/.551 – that’s Ricardo Carmona’s slash in AAA. He’ll be 21 on August 31. Yoshi debuted at age 20, if I’m not mistaken, so …? I don’t know. In any case, there isn’t even room on the roster.


14th – Manuel Movonda – 2,663
15th – Kiyohira Sasaki – 2,640
16th – Craig Hansen – 2,578 (HOF)
17th – Kelvin Yates – 2,527 (active)
t-18th – Dan George – 2,516
t-18th – Bill Smith – 2,516
20th – Angel Romero – 2,499
21st – Dennis Fried – 2,455
22nd – Juan Correa – 2,427 (HOF)
23rd – David Castillo – 2,378
24th – Nick Brown – 2,324

We’ll talk again about this around the end of May. There are five ex-Coons on the way to 14th place, by the way, also one pitcher that didn’t want to be a Coon real hard, and one that killed them forcefully in the 1983 World Series.

Whether Kisho Saito over there in Japan is watching us and took notice of Wednesday’s game?
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Old 05-19-2016, 03:42 PM   #1854
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Raccoons (12-7) @ Condors (4-14) – April 24-26, 2012

The Condors were the only team worse than the 2011 FL East champions, the Washington Capitals, after three weeks in the new season. They had scored a paltry 48 runs (2.66 R/G) in the early going, with a seventh-place pitching and defense combine that just couldn’t keep up. The Cadaverbirds had a 7-game losing streak going, too. The Raccoons have beaten the Condors for seven straight years, including back-to-back 5-4 season series wins.

Projected matchups:
Nick Brown (2-1, 3.21 ERA) vs. Manuel Rojas (0-0, 3.14 ERA)
Colin Baldwin (2-0, 3.86 ERA) vs. Doug Thompson (1-2, 3.00 ERA)
Shunyo Yano (1-2, 2.73 ERA) vs. Jaylen Martin (1-2, 2.00 ERA)

They have an entirely right-handed rotation and only one left-handed reliever. That sounds yummy!

Game 1
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – RF J. Alexander – 3B Merritt – CF Castro – C D. Alexander – P Brown
TIJ: RF Feldmann – CF Blackburn – LF Zackery – 2B Dougal – 3B D. Jones – SS M. Miller – 1B May – C Hardy – P Rojas

The Raccoons started the game with three straight singles, loading the bases. Quebell hit a sac fly to Shawn Blackburn before Rojas threw a wild pitch, then walked John Alexander anyway. Bring up Merritt, and wouldn’t you know it, he hit straight into another double play. That early tone of stranding runners in obnoxious fashion would never quite go away in this game, as they would strand quite a few more. In the fourth it was Brown to bat with runners on the corners and one out. Castro was the runner on first, couldn’t get a good jump on any pitch, never went, but ultimately that didn’t bite; Brown’s pop to short did bite, though. Yoshi grounded out, and two more were left on. Pitching-wise, Brownie was much more effective, retiring the first 13 Condors in order before Dan Jones reached on a Nomura throwing error. Dismayed, Nick Brown walked Nick May, but the Condors didn’t score in the inning and the Coons maintained their slim 1-0 lead. Castro hit into a double play in the sixth inning then, leaving J-Alex on third base with two outs. D-Alex wasn’t pitched to, and Nick Brown’s grounder up the middle was successfully played by Stanley Dougal. The Condors broke in the H column in the bottom of the inning with a 1-out single to left by Ryan Feldmann, right through between Merritt and Palmer, no chance for either. Brown got the next two, however.

Top 7th, Palmer singled before Pruitt’s deep drive was caught by Feldmann. Quebell and Alexander loaded the bags with walks drawn off Rojas, who arrived at six freebies at that point, but all that did was to bring up Jon Merritt again. Jason Seeley hit for him and wrestled another walk in a full count from Rojas. Jason’s menacing hissing might have had something to do with that – Rojas didn’t dare to throw another strike. Up to 2-0, Castro grounded to second base, but Dougal’s throw to first was low, bounced badly, and escaped May completely. Two runs scored, unearned of course. Dylan Alexander then threw out not one, but TWO Condors trying to steal in the bottom 7th. Nick May had been smacked by Brown – much to either’s dismay – and Matthew Miller singled to left, but was also lasered down at second base. Brownie started the bottom of the ninth, but the last few mishaps had increased his pitch count a bit, and he didn’t get through. Between the top 3 of the lineup he allowed a walk to Feldmann and a single to Zackery and Angel Casas came into the fray, with the tying run in the on-deck circle. Dougal flew out to right, and Jones struck out to end the game. 4-0 Brownies! Palmer 2-5; Quebell 1-2, 2 BB, RBI; Seeley 0-0, BB, RBI; Brown 8.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 K, W (3-1) and 1-4;

Brownie!! He isn’t quite managing to whiff nine per nine so far, but the results are certainly appealing and he’s second only to Curtis Tobitt of the Indians in terms of strikeouts.

In the next game, we’d experiment a bit with Sandy Sambrano and start him at third base. Other than catching, that’s the ONE position where he really doesn’t have any experience.

Game 2
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – RF J. Alexander – 3B Sambrano – CF Seeley – C D. Alexander – P Baldwin
TIJ: SS Eroh – CF Blackburn – LF Zackery – 1B T. Cardenas – 3B D. Jones – 2B M. Miller – RF Crum – C Hardy – P D. Thompson

Colin Baldwin was a bit of a jigsaw puzzle in this game. A lot of loose parts, rough around the edges, and the overall motive wasn’t clear at all. The Condors got a couple of hits in the first inning to bring Ron Eroh across with the first run of the game, and Rusty Zackery homered in the third to up the score to 2-0, while the Raccoons weren’t doing much with Doug Thompson, who was basically limited to spotting knuckleballs in the high 80s, but even after Seeley’s RBI double in the top of the fourth, he still was in good shape with Baldwin batting and two outs. Baldwin had made the third out with the bags full in the second, but now singled hard to left and Seeley scored, tied game, 2-2. Then Baldwin came back out to pitch, made an atrocious throwing error, threw a wild pitch, and conceded the go-ahead run right away again on a single by Johnny Crum. Was he trying to win or trying to lose? Maybe even Baldwin didn’t know! The rest of the team did at least try not to lose. Pruitt hit a leadoff double in the top of the fifth, and a Quebell single and a John Alexander sac fly brought him around to get even at three.

Baldwin got stuck after six and a third. Rockburn got three outs, still a tied game, before Ron Thrasher came in to face Tomas Cardenas, but the Condors sent Nick May instead, who doubled. Thrasher continued to allow singles to Dan Jones and Johnny Crum, each scoring a run. The Coons had the tying run at the plate in the top 9th with nobody out after Dylan Alexander’s leadoff single against Colin Sabatino. Castro hit for Pat Slayton, who had to dig out a thrashed left-hander in the bottom 8th, and hit right into a double play. 5-3 Condors. Sambrano 2-4; Seeley 2-4, 2B, RBI;

(grunts) Completely unnecessary loss here. Blame any left-hander, there are plenty around. At least Sandy Sambrano handled all chances well and had no part in losing this one.

Game 3
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – 1B Quebell – RF J. Alexander – LF Seeley – CF Castro – 3B Merritt – C Bowen – P Yano
TIJ: SS Eroh – 2B Dougal – 1B T. Cardenas – 3B D. Jones – CF Feldmann – LF Blackburn – RF Zackery – C J. Vargas – P J. Martin

Against “Midnight” Martin the Raccoons lost the game right in the first inning. With two on, Alexander and Seeley both hit deep flies that were caught. When Shunyo Yano started his work, nothing like that ever happened. The Condors hit three singles off him inside the first four batters before Feldmann and Zackery hit doubles and the Condors scored four runs in the inning. The Furballs left Castro on third base in the fourth inning, hit into a rally-killing double play in the sixth (that one on John Alexander), and stranded two more in the seventh, including Castro, who stole a base in either ill-fated attempt of migrating around all the corners.

Martin went 6.2 innings, striking out eight, with Jose Sanchez retiring Pruitt when he hit for Yano with two outs in the top 7th. The top 8th saw the Coons square off against an old comrade of theirs, as Kaz Kichida was thrown into the 4-0 game by the Condors. He walked Yoshi, whiffed Palmer, Quebell reached on an infield single, and then he was gone for Michael Colvard, who faced only one batter, allowing a 2-run double to John Alexander. That brought up the tying run in Seeley, with left-hander Erik McMahon appearing. The hand brake was applied here, as Sambrano came out to bat for Seeley, struck out anyway, but Keith Ayers singled to right against Kanichiro Miura, plating Alexander. Merritt flew out to right, though, keeping the team down 4-3, and Bowen, Dylan Alexander, and Nomura went down feebly against right-hander Ted Scott. 4-3 Condors. Quebell 2-4; Ayers (PH) 1-1, RBI;

Raccoons (13-9) vs. Canadiens (11-10) – April 27-29, 2012

The Elks had the best rotation by ERA (3.37) so far, conceding the second-least runs in the Continental League. The only team with less runs allowed? Try the Brownshirts. They ranked ninth in runs scored, six ranks behind the Coons. We had already taken two of three from them at the start of the season.

Projected matchups:
Bill Conway (1-2, 6.06 ERA) vs. Brad Osborne (0-2, 3.86 ERA)
Hector Santos (2-1, 5.01 ERA) vs. Johnny Krom (2-1, 2.43 ERA)
Nick Brown (3-1, 2.48 ERA) vs. Bill King (0-2, 4.26 ERA)

Krom is a left-hander. Keith Ayers is already swinging in the on-deck circle in anticipation. Should I tell him? Nah, we have too many left-handed bats as it is. We can hide him in the #7 slot.

Game 1
VAN: CF Holland – 2B M. Austin – 1B Gilbert – LF Cameron – 3B Suzuki – RF E. Garcia – SS Rice – C M. Thomas – P Osborne
POR: 2B Nomura – CF Castro – 1B Quebell – RF J. Alexander – LF Pruitt – 3B Merritt – C D. Alexander – SS M. Gutierrez – P Conway

Good contact off Conway wasn’t exactly hard tom come by. The Elks already had runners on the corners in the first inning, from which he somehow wiggled out, but the second opened with an Enrique Garcia double to left center, and Conway would plate him two batters later with a wild pitch. The Elks left it at that for the time being, while the Raccoons had nothing at all (a soft Merritt single aside) the first time through the order against Brad Osborne. Castro got on with a leadoff single in the fourth inning, representing the tying run, but if the Canadiens would have kept an even closer watch on him on first base that would have required actually stapling his uniform pants to the first base bag. It didn’t matter in the long run, since John Alexander hit a pretty long ball: dead center – gone! The score flipped to 2-1 … for about two minutes. Top 5th, Gary Rice opened with a single before old Furball Mark Thomas cranked a homer to right center. That wasn’t enough shame, however, Brad Osborne doubled, Conway threw ANOTHER wild pitch, and Ross Holland plated his pitcher with a groundout, 4-2, and Conway would allow another run on a Don Cameron RBI double before the inning was out. He was not seen again in the sixth, but also didn’t take the loss, since singles by Seeley (hitting for him) and Yoshi set up Tomas Castro, who hit a gargantuan 3-run bomb to right to tie the ballgame in the bottom of the frame. Five aside in after five.

Law Rockburn scuffled in the top of the sixth, with the Elks stranding a pair on first and third when Ramiro Cavazos’ quick bouncer to right was intercepted AND hurled to Law at first by Quebell. Jayden Reed pitched for the Elks in the bottom 6th, with Merritt hitting a leadoff single. Dylan Alexander couldn’t bunt him over, but Reed threw a wild one eventually, achieving the same result, THEN walked D-Alex. Gutierrez was then asked to bunt, bounced one towards short, but Rice’s throw to first was off the base by a good margin and Ray Gilbert barely managed to keep this a 1-base error. Bases loaded, nobody out, Seeley up again after replacing Pruitt in the field, and Jason drew a bases-loaded walk for the second time this week. Yoshi lined out, but Reed also walked Castro before being mercifully removed. Quebell scored a run with a groundout, 8-5, with J-Alex getting walked, which brought up Rockburn, who had been tentatively expected to pitch the seventh, too, but the bags were full and we weren’t gonna miss that chance. Sandy Sambrano hit for Law, and wrestled a full count walk from D.J. Fulgieri – the THIRD bases-loaded walk in the inning! Merritt would double to left after that, with Sambrano being thrown out at home; 11-5 for the home team! The Elks made faint moves in the top 7th against Manobu Sugano, who left with two out and two on, with Steele cleaning up behind him. The Coons stranded two in the bottom 7th, then had three on in the bottom 8th with one out against Luis Beltran. D-Alex grounded to short, where Gary Rice made his second throwing error of the game, missing Mark Austin completely for a run-scoring error. After that run, that ran the score to 12-5, the double play not turned became REALLY painful for the Elks. Palmer hit for Gutierrez against the lefty Beltran, and between himself and Seeley the Critters got a pair of 2-run doubles, and Seeley would then score on Castro’s single. 17-5 Furballs!! Castro 3-5, BB, HR, 5 RBI; Merritt 3-3, BB, 2B, 2 RBI; Palmer (PH) 1-1, 2B, 2 RBI; Seeley (PH) 2-3, BB, 2B, 3 RBI;

I must say, scoring 15 unanswered runs on the stinking Elks tastes pretty good! I declare a national holiday!

Okay, a regional holiday.

Game 2
VAN: CF Holland – 2B M. Austin – 1B Gilbert – LF Cameron – 3B Suzuki – RF E. Garcia – SS Rice – C M. Thomas – P Krom
POR: 2B Sambrano – SS Palmer – 1B Quebell – CF J. Alexander – 3B Merritt – LF Seeley – RF Ayers – C Bowen – P Santos

The game started with black clouds already moving in, and was soon interrupted for over 90 minutes in the second inning. Both teams ran out their starter afterwards, but both had dropped badly in velocity and couldn’t hit the spots. Santos faced ten, retired nine of those and the tenth on a double play, but there was no point in pushing him further, he just didn’t look any good out there. Offensively, nobody challenged until the fifth inning. The Raccoons had the bases loaded against starter-turned-reliever Jimmy Sjogren, and Quebell batted with two outs, lining the first pitch right to Ray Gilbert. The Coons also left runners on the corners in the bottom 6th when neither Ayers nor Bowen could get anybody in. Top 7th, Mullins had already logged five outs and now issued walks to Austin and Gilbert to start the inning. In a scoreless game, that was a real no-go! Ron Thrasher replaced him, got a double play from Cameron before Suzuki flew out to Ayers. Slayton got the ball in the eighth. Enrique Garcia started the inning with a grounder to first that Quebell completely blew for his third error of the year. That was the break the Elks needed: Garcia was moved around quickly and scored the first run of the game on Jose Mendoza’s single. The Coons had John Alexander on second base with one out in the bottom 8th, but of course Seeley’s drive to deep center was intercepted by Holland, and when Mark Austin led off with a drive to center in the top 9th it became an obvious triple. Slayton was churned for three hits and two runs in the inning, and the Raccoons lost this one without doing anything right. 3-0 Canadiens. J. Alexander 1-2, 2 BB; Santos 3.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K;

Good grief! They had SEVENTEEN runs the day before, and now they can’t pick a single one out of their pelt! Horrendous performance!

Game 3
VAN: CF Holland – RF E. Garcia – 1B Gilbert – LF Cameron – 3B Suzuki – C M. Thomas – SS Lawrence – 2B M. Austin – P Fujita
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – 1B Quebell – RF J. Alexander – LF Pruitt – CF Castro – 3B Merritt – C D. Alexander – P Brown

With the Elks bringing in Juichi Fujita (2-0, 3.86 ERA) this rubber game became a rematch of Opening Day, which didn’t go Brownie’s way, but this game certainly got off to a much better start. While the top 1st created a tight spot for Brown when Merritt misfiled a Gilbert grounder and placed it under his cap instead of mailing it to first base, and Don Cameron singled before Suzuki made the third out, things came around quickly in the bottom 1st. The 3-4-5 batters all singled off Fujita for a first-inning run, and in the second inning they already did some harm to Fujita, who wasn’t sharp, and the Coons kept singling away merri(tt)ly. Merritt led off the bottom 2nd with a single and moved up on a D-Alex groundout. Brown then singled, Nomura singled, Palmer singled, and Quebell walked. J-Alex grounded one to Jaylin Lawrence that looked like the ticket out of the inning for Fujita, who was already down 3-0, but Lawrence muffed it and had to chase it down in shallow left center, allowing the Raccoons to score another run, 4-0, and they reached 5-0 on a Pruitt single before Castro struck out (just like in the first inning, raising his LOB to 5), and Merritt flew out to center.

An ace worth his fan mail with underpants sent by either sex would take that 5-0 lead and cruise, and through four innings it sure looked like this one was over, but in the fifth Lawrence led off with a soft single just past Yoshi, and then Austin, the veteran, walked. Clint Southcott hit for Fujita, the count ran full, and Southcott struck out finally, but not until after Brownie had thrown a wild pitch to move both runners into scoring position. Ross Holland scored Lawrence with a single to left, 5-1, before Garcia flew out to Pruitt in shallow left, Austin not even twitching at third, but then Brownie threw ANOTHER wild one! That one made Austin twitch and score…

Cameron and Suzuki then hit singles at the start of the sixth. Uh, Nick – we’re a bit short in the pen after milking those guys for 10 innings the last two days, so if you could … that would be … yes. He got it. Thomas and Lawrence went down in flames, Austin grounded out, and the 5-2 lead lived through six. Top 7th, we quite needed this one from Brown, too, but unfortunately Alonso Baca bashed his first pitch for a homer, cutting the Coons, who had zero hits against the pen so far, down to a 5-3 size. Then Holland doubled, tried to steal third base, and was thrown out by Dylan Alexander. Garcia singled right away then, and Gilbert bounced to Palmer, who missed that play pretty badly. The double play not turned (or any play not turned…) almost proved costly, but Yoshi made a nice play on Cameron and nursed a crawling Nick Brown through the seventh inning still up 5-3. The bottom 7th actually saw a Coon on base as Pruitt drew a walk, only for Castro to hit into a double play, and then Steele opened the top 8th with a single to Mark Thomas, THEN faced three left-handers and retired THOSE. Wicked! And there was no time to rest just yet. Angel Casas and Adrian Quebell were collectively beaten and fooled by Ross Holland for an infield single to lead off the ninth, once more bringing up the tying run. Garcia popped out, and Gilbert grounded hard to third, which at this point was not really relaxing, but Merritt made the play perfectly. Holland, whose run didn’t matter, moved up, but when Don Cameron walked things got trickier. Mitsuhide Suzuki was only batting .178, but knocked a 2-1 pitch high to right, with John Alexander initially not knowing where to run to. In! He had to come in, as this was falling, coming on, coming on – made the play! 5-3 Brownies! Nomura 2-4, BB, RBI; Quebell 2-3, BB, RBI; Pruitt 2-3, BB, 2 RBI; Brown 7.0 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, W (4-1) and 1-2;

Coons: 10 hits and a walk off Fujita in four innings – NO hits and three walks off the pen in as many innings. If anybody other than Brown was starting this one, it blows up in the middle innings. We pitched Steele and Angel out of the pen, and that was about everybody we had available.

In other news

April 23 – OCT SP Antonio Donis (3-0, 2.41 ERA), the two-time defending CL Pitcher of the Year, is shut down with shoulder inflammation. Whether the almost-40-year old southpaw will come back from the injury remains to be seen.
April 24 – SAC 1B Raúl Bovane (.333, 3 HR, 9 RBI) has been diagnosed with a quad strain and will have to sit about for at least a month.
April 26 – The Indians lose SP Román Escobedo (0-1, 3.86 ERA) for the season. The 31-year old southpaw has been diagnosed with shoulder inflammation.
April 28 – CHA SP Steve Kreider (2-3, 3.35 ERA) 2-hits the Knights in a 3-0 shutout.
April 29 – The Pacifics put CF/LF Jimmy Roberts (.345, 4 HR, 11 RBI) on the DL with an elbow sprain, expecting him to miss four weeks.
April 29 – Another shutout is spun, this time in the Federal League, where RIC SP Brian Furst (3-1, 2.25 ERA) 3-hits the Buffaloes in a 6-0 win.

Complaints and stuff

Ah, the Elks are gone. Open the windows – it stinks in here!

We’re a month into the season, and the team – again – isn’t hitting home runs. They have 14 for the month, which obviously works out to less than 100 homers for the season. I just can’t believe it…

Law claimed victory on Friday, giving him a pretty crazy 37-16 career record. Even for a GOOD reliever, that’s a pretty stupendous mark. Compare to Angel Casas’ 16-16 mark. Okay, maybe that comparison doesn’t fly, since Angel is a closer. Marcos Bruno then! 50-39 for Bruno. Another pretty good reliever of old for the Coons was Wally Gaston, who lingered around the top 10 in franchise wins until very recently, and he was 49-46 for his career. Last one, Richard Cunningham, who made over 1,000 appearances in his career, and had a 89-75 record.

Well, everybody ready for some awful news? Ricardo Carmona has bone chips in his elbow and has to be cut open. We hope he’ll be back in June.


Oh well, no time to cry. We were gone for two weeks, and then the Elks come in and leave their smell everywhere. I had to replace the air fresheners on a daily basis over the weekend, and now I have to get into all that mail that Maud handed me on Friday morning…
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1983 * 1989 * 1991 * 1992 * 1993 * 1995 * 1996 * 2010 * 2017 * 2018 * 2019 * 2026 * 2028
: 2 POWELL : 8 REECE : 10 BROWN : 15 HALL : 28 CASAS : 32 WEST : 46 SAITO

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Two weeks on the road – two weeks of mail to go through. Well, some could be discarded right away. Maud had taken all the Portland Agitator newspapers during our road trip and had trimmed them down to the sports pages and the front page whenever the Raccoons appeared on that. There were seven bits; one for every loss on the road trip – the Agitator normally wasn’t covering the Raccoons if they couldn’t throw dirt on them – and one from April 19, for the 4-3 win in Boston on the 18th. Y’know, the one where Nick Brown struck out eight to pass Kisho Saito for the franchise strikeout lead.

The front page headline? “An Icon Destroyed” – with a picture of Kuni Sato’s feeble cut that was #2,323. Brown wasn’t even in the picture, but a smaller picture of the ONE time somebody caught Kisho Saito smiling was inserted into the top right corner.

You know what? To hell with the Agitator! (dumps all the newspaper bits)

There was also the usual mixed junk in the mail. There was an inquiry into becoming an associate sponsor by Frank’s Furs – with two locations in Portland and none anywhere else – which was exactly as bad as it sounded. What were people even thinking?

Then there was a letter from Milton, six years old, from Oregon City. “Deer Mr Wetfield” it started. What a start! Wow! “My name is Milton and I am sixx years old. I love racoons and I want to hav a raccon miself. Can you pleas tell my mom that she mus by me a racon? Thenks, Milton.” Um. “Oh, my bother Tylre, whoo is 15 helpd me with the latter.”

I don’t know whether I should be concerned about the literacy- and spelling skills of first- or tenth-graders or the poor hapless animals that occasionally wander into their yard, but I’m sure every raccoon worth his whiskers would take Tyler’s and Milton's noses straight off.

Uh, swiftly ahead! There was a letter from the president of the Make A Demand Organization in the mail. I think everybody’s familiar with Make A Demand (or MAD for short), right? They’re a for-profit organization seeking to arrange for stupid spoiled rich kids, who are otherwise totally fine except for their annoying raging sense of entitlement, to meet their idols; athletes, musicians, actors – you pick your favorite.

Their president, the entirely likeable (…) Mr Bimbo Millions, was demanding (sic!) for the teenage girls of a rather well-known Oregon lawyer, who by the ring of his name had already sued the Raccoons for supposed damages repeatedly in years past for dubious cases where someone at the park sustained serious mental trauma by the level of play on the field, to meet Craig Bowen. Why Craig Bowen? Mr Millions explained that Ebony, 16, and Malady, 14, were admiring Bowen for raking in tons of money without doing any actual work himself.

(tears letter in lots of tiny bits and pieces)

There was one last small letter in the mail that could actually be entirely overseen if you weren’t careful. It was stamped in Japan and was completely in Japanese. I called for Joe, Shunyo Yano’s interpreter, to translate it for me.

Dear Westfield-sama

I could not help but notice the great achievement by Nick Brown-shi in Boston last week.

Please forward my heart-felt congratulations to shi. Shi’s achievements make all of us greater.

With all respects

Saito Kisho

(tears are flowing freely)


Today the Raccoons turn four years old! Let's sink our paws into the cake right now!
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Raccoons (15-10) vs. Crusaders (15-9) – April 30-May 3, 2012

The Crusaders were tied for the lead in the North, and the Raccoons were half a game behind. It was only the end of April, but these games already had a certain life-or-death flair to them. Fittingly, we’d play four to raise the stakes. So far, the Crusaders’ offense was second to none with 145 runs scored, which came out to almost six per game. Their pitching rankd fifth, with both the rotation and the bullpen for some reason putting up ERA’s worse than four.

Just once in the last six years had one of these two teams won more than 10 games in direct head-to-head competition, when the Crusaders beat the Raccoons 11-7 in 2008. The Coons had taken the last two years with 10-8 clips.

Projected matchups:
Colin Baldwin (2-0, 3.64 ERA) vs. Paul Miller (1-2, 4.25 ERA)
Shunyo Yano (1-3, 3.34 ERA) vs. Ken Maddox (1-1, 2.67 ERA)
Bill Conway (1-2, 6.75 ERA) vs. Kelvin Yates (4-0, 3.19 ERA)
Hector Santos (2-1, 4.39 ERA) vs. Pancho Trevino (3-2, 4.59 ERA)

No left-handed starters in their rotation, and they also only had one left-handed reliever in Dan Hutchings who was nothing if not unheralded. They did have one significant injury in that they were missing centerfielder Roberto Pena who had broken his wrist in the fourth game of the year.

Game 1
NYC: 2B Caraballo – CF J. Gonzalez – LF M. Ortíz – RF S. Martin – 1B Manfull – 3B Bond – C D. Anderson – SS Kester – P P. Miller
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – 1B Quebell – RF J. Alexander – LF Pruitt – 3B Merritt – CF Seeley – C D. Alexander – P Baldwin

When Martin Ortíz casually doubled in Jose Gonzalez, who had reached on a grievous throwing error by Palmer in the first inning, the Raccoons faced a 1-0 deficit and initially struggled to even get on base. The first time through the order they had only a walk to their credit, and Yoshi reached on an error in the third, but nothing came of that. John Alexander’s single at least got them into the H column in the fourth. Meanwhile Baldwin, who had been charged with an unearned run in the first, was presenting about his best effort of the season, with the Crusaders not getting much good contact off him, well, except for Ortíz, who also had their second hit when he came up the second time through. When Paul Miller walked Jason Seeley to start the bottom 5th, Seeley represented the tying run, and Dylan Alexander’s high drive exiting in center meant that not only Seeley scored, but the Raccoons flipped the score in their favor, 2-1.

Trouble soon was brewing though for Baldwin. After six innings of 2-hit ball, the Crusaders started to chip away in the seventh inning. B.J. Manfull made an out, but after that Kevin Bond and Daryl Anderson singled. Jaime Kester was his last batter and when he had the switch-hitter at 2-2, he switched into dumb mode and hit him. That loaded the bases, exit Baldwin, entry Rockburn, with the Crusaders not having announced a pinch-hitter for Paul Miller yet. None ever came, as the Crusaders thought that Miller was well capable of getting the score righted himself for which his career .193 batting average was little justification, but Miller did make contact, floating a soft fly to shallow left, where Pruitt had no troubles to log the second out. Bond was not a fast runner and stayed put, and when Francisco Caraballo flew out to John Alexander, they stranded three runners. Quebell homered in the bottom of the inning to make it a 3-1 game, but Ortíz hit a double off Rockburn in the top 8th. He was on third base after Stanton Martin grounded out, with Thrasher behind assigned the left-hander B.J. Manfull, whom he smacked quite loudly with the first pitch. Oh well, another lefty coming. Kevin Bond struck out, and Angel Casas took care of the rest. 3-1 Critters! Quebell 2-4, HR, RBI; D. Alexander 1-2, BB, HR, 2 RBI; Baldwin 6.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, W (3-0); Rockburn 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K;

That was a close one. My feeling of certain doom after the unearned run in the first inning proved unjustified, and maybe that go-ahead homer by Dylan Alexander will be the start of a hot streak for him. He could sure use one.

Game 2
NYC: SS Kester – 2B Caraballo – LF M. Ortíz – RF S. Martin – 1B Manfull – C G. Ortíz – 3B Bond – CF J. Gonzalez – P Maddox
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – 1B Quebell – RF J. Alexander – CF Seeley – LF Sambrano – C D. Alexander – 3B M. Gutierrez – P Yano

New York made really hard contact off Yano from the very start. Martin Ortíz hit a 2-run homer in the first inning, and was denied by John Alexander, who picked another homer off the top of the fence in the third inning. But the Coons had an early rally in them, and it was even started by Yano with a leadoff single in the bottom 3rd. The Coons would hit three more singles, two of the infield variety, to claw themselves into a 2-1 deficit with the bases loaded and one out, a situation in which Seeley then struck out. Sambrano was less fishing for crap and Maddox kept missing, walking him on four pitches to push home the tying run before D-Alex struck out. The issue with Yano being unfit for his main job remained, however, and Caraballo’s 2-run homer in the fifth gave the Crusaders a new lead. Michael Palmer hit one out to start the bottom of the same inning, yet the Raccoons trailed 4-3 after that. They did have another trick up their sleeve, however, or should I say stupid luck? With Gutierrez on first base and two outs in the sixth, Pruitt hit for Yano and singled to left. That brought up a hitless Yoshi, who jabbed a 3-2 pitch quite high over the leftfield line. Ortíz came hustling and tried to snare it in mid-flight, couldn’t get to it by about ten feet, and then it took a fast bounce over his outstretched glove and went past him. By the time the full-throttle Ortíz reversed and collected the ball in foul territory, both runners had scored and Nomura had come up with a score-flipping 2-out, 2-run double!

Unfortunately, this joy wasn’t permanent. Palmer left Nomura where he was, and the top 7th began with Steele walking Daryl Anderson, which he never really recovered from. Anderson got forced by Kester, who moved to second on a very deep F8 out by Caraballo, a cocky move that saved the Crusaders this contest. We wanted no part of Martin Ortíz, who was walked intentionally so Steele – a certified closer! – could pitch to the right-handed Stanton Martin, April’s Batter of the Month. That didn’t work, Martin singled, Kester scored, and the game was tied. Sugano then had to replace Steele to get the third out from B.J. Manfull. The Coons scratched out another run in the bottom 7th when Dan Hutchings walked two and allowed a sac fly to D-Alex that scored J-Alex, giving the Critters a 6-5 lead that was soon endangered by Sugano, but Rockburn held the store closed in the top 8th.

Bottom 8th, Ramiro Román issued leadoff walks to Bowen and Yoshi before Palmer hit an infield single in Kester’s general direction, loading them up with nobody out. Quebell hit into a force at home, but John Alexander would single in two to get the Coons to 8-5. Their representative in the ninth remained Rockburn, with Kester hitting a leadoff single before Caraballo lined out on a 3-1 pitch that Merritt caught at third base. Okay, this looks bad. How bad shall it get before we throw in Angel? Let’s see what Ortíz does to Law first. One walk later, we longed for Angel Casas real hard. He came in, struck out Stanton Martin, and Manfull was retired on a gentle fly to center. 8-5 Furballs!! Palmer 3-5, HR, RBI; J. Alexander 2-4, BB, 2 RBI; D. Alexander 2-3, RBI; Pruitt (PH) 1-1;

Yep, that was the third consecutive game for Angel. But hey, it’s May, what could possibly happen?

In all seriousness though, Bill Conway facing Kel Yates was not something I was looking forward to in 2012.

Game 3
NYC: SS Kester – 2B Caraballo – LF M. Ortíz – RF S. Martin – 1B Manfull – C G. Ortíz – 3B Bond – CF J. Gonzalez – P Yates
POR: CF Castro – SS Palmer – 1B Quebell – RF J. Alexander – LF Pruitt – 2B Sambrano – 3B Merritt – C Bowen – P Conway

Nope, Conway still wasn’t fixed. He retired the first seven Crusaders, but then gave up a real moonshot to Jose Gonzalez, while Yates faced the minimum over four innings, only allowing a single to Castro in the fourth, but Castro was caught stealing. The Crusaders had already added another run in the top 4th, moving out to a 2-0 lead, but the Raccoons would have runners on the corners in the bottom of the fifth inning with Merritt batting. Worst case he hits into a double play, and that was exactly what happened. Conway never got an out in the sixth inning. Caraballo singled, Palmer made an error on Ortíz’ grounder, and then Stanton Martin shot a liner into right for an RBI single. That was it for “Flipper” Conway, with Slayton appearing for some long relief. Yates was on and there was about no hope to come back from even a 3-0 deficit, plus the back end of the pen was unavailable. Slayton initially got a double play from Manfull, leaving Martin Ortíz on third, but Gabriel Ortíz scored his namesake from there with a double and for good measure Kevin Bond would add an RBI single. Already down 5-0, the Raccoons’ crummy shallow end of the pen instead collapsed for another five runs in the ninth inning, mostly the fault of Kyle Mullins and Manobu Sugano, who took over a bases loaded situation with two outs and scored runs with a hit batter and a walk, but Sambrano also made a clumsy error… Yates shut out the Coons on a 3-hitter over eight innings, but Manuel Reyes finished the game. 10-0 Crusaders.

Well, that one hurts. Conway is another ****ty outing removed from doing long relief for the rest of his life. Rich Hood might not be spectacular in AAA (ERA just over three, peripherals nice but not overwhelming), but he can’t possibly be any worse.

Game 4
NYC: SS Kester – 2B Caraballo – LF M. Ortíz – RF S. Martin – 1B Manfull – C G. Ortíz – 3B Bond – CF J. Gonzalez – P P. Trevino
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – LF Pruitt – RF J. Alexander – 1B Sambrano – CF Castro – C D. Alexander – 3B M. Gutierrez – P Santos

Santos didn’t allow a hit until Caraballo’s leadoff single in the fourth inning, and that runner would be removed on a strike-em-out-throw-em-out play, but many long counts meant that Santos, who was not the most enduring guy around, was sitting at 71 pitches after just four innings, and had yet to receive any support.

Instead of getting better by addition of offense, the Raccoons got less through substraction via injury, and who else but Tomas Castro could be the first casualty of the season? He made a tumbling grab on Trevino’s line drive to end the top of the fifth, saving an unearned run – the error being on Santos himself – but somewhere in that tumble seemed to have broken his body in two to seven places. He was carried off and Seeley replaced him in center – for one inning. Seeley batted second in the bottom 5th after Sambrano had walked, but forced Sandy with a grounder to second base. Dylan Alexander walked, moving Seeley to second, and when Gutierrez singled to right center, Seeley was sent even against Stanton Martin’s Arm of Murder. Seeley, Gabriel Ortíz and the ball all arrived at home plate at the same time, resulting in a safe call and Seeley holding his left thigh after getting stuck under Ortíz’ knee with his leg. Okay, damage control: Sambrano to center, and Merritt entered the game.

Santos was totally done after six shutout innings, leaving the 1-0 lead to Thrasher, who pitched a scoreless seventh. Gutierrez added another RBI single in the bottom of the inning, this time scoring Sambrano, and Steele sat down the Crusaders 1-2-3 in the eighth before the Coons added two runs on some shoddy pitching by Manuel Reyes, who allowed three hits and a walk, and an error by the usually sure-handed Martin Ortíz. Top 9th, up 4-0 Mullins was in, drilled Caraballo, and allowed a single to Martin Ortíz. With nobody out, Angel Casas was called on, got a chopper back from Stanton Martin and turned a double play that left Caraballo on third base. Alright, this one’s as good as – no, B.J. Manfull hit a HUGE homer to right center, and the Crusaders were back within two. Worse, Gabe Ortíz and Bond both hit hard singles off Angel, bringing up Gonzalez, who had already gone deep in the set, and that count ran full before Angel removed him and ended the game with a nasty tailing breaking pitch that Gonzalez never had a chance of reaching. 4-2 Raccoons. Palmer 2-4; Sambrano 4-4, RBI; Gutierrez 2-4, 2 RBI; Santos 6.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 K, W (3-1);

Say, Angel, you wanted to up the stakes a bit, right? Get the adrenaline flowing? Some kick after all these boring saves so far this year? Please say it’s so.


Raccoons (18-11) @ Wolves (7-21) – May 4-6, 2012

The downright miserable Wolves were tied for last in offense in the Federal League with 94 runs, which was under 3.5 per game, and also ranked 10th in runs allowed, conceding 137 markers to the opposition. While their rotation was borderline-decent, the bullpen had been horrendous with an ERA approaching five. We had won the last three series against them, including sweeps in 2010 and 2011.

Projected matchups:
Nick Brown (4-1, 2.70 ERA) vs. Cesar Ochoa (0-4, 3.83 ERA)
Colin Baldwin (3-0, 3.00 ERA) vs. Zach Hughes (2-3, 6.39 ERA)
Shunyo Yano (1-3, 3.76 ERA) vs. David Peterson (2-3, 3.40 ERA)

Three more right-handers, red-faced southpaw Tim Dunn (1-4, 5.35 ERA) having pitched for them on Thursday.

Our injury report was not entirely clear. Jason Seeley had an adductor strain and was somewhere between “highly unlikely” and “definitely out” for the series, although he was officially listed as DTD. Tomas Castro was not yet pieced back together for a clear and final diagnosis.

Game 1
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – 1B Quebell – RF J. Alexander – LF M. Pruitt – CF Sambrano – 3B Merritt – C D. Alexander – P Brown
SAL: 3B Dawson – 2B J. Perez – RF J. Gonzalez – 1B J. Gutierrez – SS D. Ortega – C Harris – LF Marino – CF A. Ruiz – P Ochoa

While Pruitt had the Coons’ first hit with a second-inning single, stole a base and eventually scored on Jon Merritt’s sac fly to Jaime Marino in deep left, Nick Brown sat down the first ten Wolves in the game before Jose Perez singled up the middle with one out in the fourth inning. Brownie came back with strikeouts to Javier Gonzalez and Jose Gutierrez, however, and maintained a 1-hitter with 5 K through four innings, and on a low pitch count, too. Merritt singled in the fifth inning, and the Raccoons upped the score to 3-0 with two outs when Yoshi hit an RBI double, followed by an RBI single by Michael Palmer. Top 7th, Merritt hit another leadoff single, followed by D-Alex drawing a walk. Brown bunted them over, with the Wolves electing to walk renowned serial slugger Yoshi Nomura to get to Palmer. Well, okay, the move was defensible as Palmer was a right-hander and liked to hit the ball onto the ground. Here he grounded back to the pitcher, who nipped Merritt at home, before Quebell fouled out. Leaving three on of course commanded the Wolves to stage a rally in the bottom 7th, beginning with Perez drawing a leadoff walk before Gonzalez singled through Palmer into left. Gutierrez bounced a ball to Brown, who only got the out at second base, leaving them on first and third, and the Wolves picked Brown apart with an RBI double that Domingo Ortega hit on a 1-2 pitch, Blair Harris’ single, and Jaime Marino’s groundout, which tied the score…

The lead was restored to Brown in the top 8th in doubly-undeserved manner, with John Alexander getting plunked, moving up a base on a groundout, and scoring on a throwing error by Marino. The 4-3 lead arrived safely in the bottom 9th, but after pitching almost every day for a week, Angel Casas was completely off limits. The inning started with a left-hander, Gonzalez, so Thrasher got the ball and surrendered the game-tying homer on an 0-2 pitch right away. After an uneventful 10th inning, D-Alex would sock a 2-out homer off Cris Pena to give the Raccoons a 5-4 lead in the 11th inning. This time Micah Steele would try to close one out, being opposed by the top of the order. Ryan Dawson singled to center right away before Perez popped out foul. Javier Gonzalez came mighty close to a walkoff homer with a long drive to center that Sambrano caught on the warning track, before Gutierrez grounded out. 5-4 Raccoons. Nomura 2-4, BB, 2B, RBI; Merritt 3-4, 2 RBI; Brown 8.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K;

Talk about really bad luck. The Wolves had seven base runners the entire game, five of those against Brown, and did close to max damage with them. In retrospective, we might have been better off with Brown not being hit for with Craig Bowen to start the top 9th, Bowen struck out of course, and instead him going into the bottom of the ninth. He had only thrown 89 pitches through eight…

Oregon weather struck on Saturday and washed out the middle game of the series. A double header was scheduled for Sunday, while we also received the news that Tomas Castro ultimately had only suffered a foot contusion. He was put on the DL, but might be fine after the minimum 15 days. We added an extra right-handed bat in the meantime, bringing up Brett Gentry, who had so far gone .278 with 2 HR and 12 RBI in St. Pete.

Game 2
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – 1B Quebell – LF M. Pruitt – CF Sambrano – 3B Merritt – RF Ayers – C Bowen – P Baldwin
SAL: 3B Dawson – 2B J. Perez – RF J. Gonzalez – C T. Delgado – 1B J. Gutierrez – LF Grady – SS D. Ortega – CF A. Ruiz – P D. Peterson

The Wolves already scored a stupid run in the first inning when Perez walked, Baldwin struck Gonzalez, and Tony Delgado singled softly over Nomura, but they put Baldwin into a box in the bottom of the second, swinging away for four hits, including a Perez triple, to run the score to 4-0. In between, the Raccoons had enjoyed singles by Pruitt and Sambrano to start the top 2nd, but Merritt had hit into yet another double play, and Ayers was useless anyway. The Coons took a while to wake up, and initially had to rely on Craig Bowen to pace the offense, which in 2012 was a pretty bad statement to make. But Bowen doubled in both of his first two plate appearances, and was scored both times – once on a balk admittedly – to cut the gap in half to 4-2, before Peterson loaded the bases in the top 6th. Pruitt had singled and been forced by Sandy, Merritt singled, and Ayers drew a walk to set up Bowen again with one out. This time Bowen flew out to left, Sambrano scoring to get back to 4-3, before John Alexander hit for Baldwin, but grounded out. And while it didn’t seem like it then, this was ultimately the last squeak from either team. Kyle Mullins pitched three innings in relief without giving the Wolves a chance, but the Coons drew nothing but blanks against the Wolves’ shoddy bullpen. 4-3 Wolves. Palmer 3-4; Pruitt 2-3, BB; Bowen 2-3, 2 2B, RBI; Mullins 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K;

Sad thing is, we even out-hit them 10-6. It was just one of these abominable games where nothing ever works out for your own team, and EVERYTHING works out for the other team. And to be fair, Dylan Alexander’s homer aside, game 1 had been the exact same mess.

Second leg of double header comin’ –

Game 3
POR: 2B Nomura – CF Sambrano – 1B M. Pruitt – RF J. Alexander – LF Gentry – 3B Merritt – C D. Alexander – SS M. Gutierrez – P Yano
SAL: 3B Dawson – 2B J. Perez – RF J. Gonzalez – 1B J. Gutierrez – SS D. Ortega – C Harris – LF MacDonald – CF A. Ruiz – P Hughes

John Alexander’s double scored Sambrano for a 1-0 lead in the top 1st, just in time for the Wolves to hit grounders through either middle infielder and get Gonzalez to draw a walk and load the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the inning. Shunyo Yano never saw the second inning; the Wolves knocked him out in the first. The only batter he ever retired was Blair Harris, and after a walk to Hughes, it was bedtime, down 5-1 with the bases loaded and one out. Pat Slayton got the ball, allowed one run on a sac fly hit by Ryan Dawson, and the Coons sat in a 6-1 hole after one measly inning.

Shunyo Yano had even had the balls to protest his removal, but his feelings wouldn’t remain the only ones hurt in this game that soon devolved into circus. A Merritt single and a D-Alex double put runners in scoring position with nobody out in the top 2nd, yet the only batter to bring someone home was Slayton with a sac fly. Despite this openly visible ineptitude, the Raccoons had the tying run at the plate with nobody out in the third inning, and this had to do with Blair Harris, whose arm was so weak he was comparable roughly to Jose Paraz’ on the Indians. Sandy Sambrano literally ran circles around Harris in this game, stealing a base his first time around in the first inning, then stealing TWO in the third, the latter with Pruitt in tandem. J-Alex’ single scored Sambrano and left Pruitt at third, and Brett Gentry walked for Merritt to work some magic with the sacks full. Merritt somehow stayed out of a triple play and instead hit an RBI single to left, getting the Coons to 6-4, but they would stop at 6-5 after a sac fly by Dylan Alexander. The incessant drumming of Zach Hughes seemed to go on in the fourth. Well, first Hughes drummed Yoshi with a pitch… Sambrano then singled but couldn’t steal for the roadblock in front of him. Merritt would bat with two down and the sacks full and dished a fast bouncer unplayable past a diving Ortega into left, two runs scored, and the score was flipped in the Coons’ favor, 7-6!

Hughes was now hauled in to be culled. Raúl Chavez, a longtime starter on his last leg, appeared to attempt long relief himself, but Dylan Alexander mashed his first pitch for a truly bombastic 3-run homer to slightly-off-to-the-right centerfield. 10-6!

Too bad Slayton was already at 50 pitches and running out. Ryan Dawson homered in the bottom 4th to get back to 10-7, and Slayton was done after that inning. Things settled down quite a bit after that inning, as both teams got over two almost perfect innings from one of their relievers, with Manobu Sugano logging seven outs before handing off to Rockburn, who was charged a run in the bottom 8th, in which Abe Ruiz doubled and scored on a 2-out single by Dawson. After this, Thrasher came on, but set out to blow the game by walking Perez before Gonzalez doubled. Dawson scored, 10-9, and there were runners on second and third with two outs. If that was not the time for Angel Casas, it would never come, and probably it should have come earlier. Angel slidered Gutierrez into submission to get the Critters out of the eighth. Palmer had entered at short in a double switch along with Casas and led off the top 9th with a single, only for Yoshi to hit a pitch right back to Pat Treglown, the umpteenth reliever in the game, who started a double play. Sandy singled, stole ANOTHER base, then scored on a hard single to right by Matt Pruitt! Bottom 9th, Angel got a grounder to Palmer out of Domingo Ortega before Matt Pruitt’s cousin Jonathan got his third PH appearance in the series, grounding out to Yoshi. Pat MacDonald was the last straw for the Wolves, and three futile waving motions later, this complete bananas game was in the books as a Coons win…! 11-9 Brownshirts. Sambrano 2-4, BB, 4 SB; Pruitt 2-4, 2 BB, 2B, RBI; J. Alexander 3-6, 2 RBI; Merritt 3-4, BB, 3 RBI; D. Alexander 2-4, HR, 2B, 4 RBI; Palmer 1-1; Slayton 3.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, W (1-1) and 1-2, RBI; Sugano 2.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K; Casas 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, SV (13);

All Oregon is bonkers now, I guess.

In other news

May 5 – At 39, CIN SP Javier Cruz (1-2, 5.77 ERA) records his 250th career win in a 5-1 triumph of the Cyclones over the Falcons. Cruz pitches eight innings of 6-hit, 1-run ball for the win. The right-hander was a fifth-round pick by the Crusaders in the 1990 draft, but spent most of his 18-year major league career with the Blue Sox, arriving in Cincy in ’11 after a 3-year stint with Portland. Overall, he is 250-164 with a 3.71 ERA and 3,068 strikeouts. He led the FL in wins twice and in ERA once, ranks sixth in strikeouts and seventh in wins all time in the ABL, and was also decorated with back-to-back Pitcher of the Year awards in 1997 and 1998.
May 5 – NYC INF Francisco Caraballo (.295, 2 HR, 9 RBI) falls a homer shy of the cycle as he goes 5-5 with a double, a triple, and one RBI in the Crusaders’ 6-2 defeat to the Blue Sox.
May 6 – PIT LF/RF Mohammed Blanc (.356, 2 HR, 6 RBI) connects for a seventh-inning single off the Indians’ Sam McMullen to join the 2,000 hits club. The 36-year old Ontarian has spent his entire career with the Miners, putting up a .321/.398/.472 slash with 118 HR and 885 RBI. He led the FL in doubles in 2006 (53) and in triples in 2009 (16). Also in ’09 he won a Platinum Stick.

Complaints and stuff

Nick Brown was chosen as the CL Pitcher of the Month for April! He went 4-1 with a 2.70 ERA, striking out 43 in 43 1/3 innings. This is his third Pitcher of the Month award, and they have all come in April, once every two years (2008, 2010, 2012).

Sunday’s mind-boggling nightcap got the Raccoons back into a virtual tie of first place, and not even with the Crusaders. This week had pretty much everything. The whole spectrum of baseball was showcased. Maybe except for good pitching by the Coons, but they still won five of seven somehow.

The offense seems to work most of the time right now. The offense is working so well, the Raccoons are SECOND in stolen bases. Credit where credit’s due: Sandy Sambrano became the first Critter to steal FOUR bases in a single game! All part of Sunday’s believe-it-or-not comeback over Salem.

After an off day on Monday, we’ll see the Rebels and Titans to open a string of 13 games, all at home. We won’t actually have a string of games longer than that until before the All Star Game, when we will have 17 straight games.

In terms of prospects nobody ever talks about, LF/RF Keith Chisholm has been promoted to St. Pete after going .317/.436/.540 with 3 HR and 10 RBI in the first 20 games in Ham Lake. Chisholm was a fifth-rounder in 2010 and put up a .838 OPS in Aumsville in ’11 before migrating to Ham Lake, where he struggled. The .976 OPS for this year in Ham Lake might not be true after all, but the recent injuries created an opening at AAA that somebody had to fill anyway, and he might stay there until at least the 18th, which will be the earliest day "Crumbling to Dust" Castro can come off the DL.
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Raccoons (20-12) vs. Rebels (20-12) – May 8-10, 2012

Both of these teams were virtually tied for the lead in their division, so this was quite the spicy affair; the Rebels came in ranking third in the FL in runs scored with a remarkable 172 counters to their credit, working out roughly to 5.4 runs per game, but they were also giving up more than 4.5 runs per game, the fourth-worst mark in the FL. Both rotation and bullpen had ERA’s soundly over four, while they led their league in stolen bases. Overall the Raccoons had their absolute worst winning percentage against the Rebels, a shoddy .333 mark, but we had actually won the last two engagements, including a sweep over them in 2010.

Projected matchups:
Hector Santos (3-1, 3.58 ERA) vs. Brian Furst (3-1, 2.09 ERA)
Nick Brown (4-1, 2.81 ERA) vs. Shaun Babineau (1-2, 6.50 ERA)
Colin Baldwin (3-1, 3.51 ERA) vs. Tim Winston (0-2, 5.26 ERA)

Bill Conway was skipped as the opportunity presented itself with the off day on Monday, which would have been his turn. They will hurl three right-handed pitchers at us.

Game 1
RIC: C Little – 2B Tolwith – LF E. Clark – RF W. Jones – 1B Shank – CF Enriquez – 3B Robinson – SS Cash – P Furst
POR: 2B Nomura – 3B Sambrano – 1B Quebell – RF J. Alexander – LF Pruitt – SS Palmer – CF Seeley – C D. Alexander – P Santos

After a first-inning run that was aided by a wild pitch thrown by Brian Furst the Raccoons didn’t necessarily seem inclined to tack on anything else, while the Rebels got a leadoff triple into the rightfield corner from Dave Cash in the third. Hector Santos had yet to whiff anybody, and instantly whiffed Furst and Morgan Little before Aaron Tolwith, the former Logger, flew out deep to right. Those deep drives by the Rebels had already been a thing before, and in the fourth inning Earl Clark would smash a leadoff jack to left center to get this game tied. To the bottom of the inning, where Quebell reached on a soft single, Palmer on an infield single, and Jason Seeley drove a liner to center that escaped Victor Enriquez’ fangs and made it to the fall for a 2-run double. The only blip on that go-ahead extra-base hit was that Seeley pulled something in his back, then was pulled from the game. Sambrano moved to center while Merritt took over at third base. While Santos got better in the middle innings and racked up a few strikeouts while entertaining seven innings of 3-hit ball, the same couldn’t be said for Furst, who was charged for another two runs in the bottom 5th, John Alexander and Matt Pruitt plating Yoshi Nomura and Sandy Sambrano respectively, and was finally knocked out by Quebell’s solo shot in the bottom 7th. Lefty Iván Cordero came in, struck out Alexander, but then faced Keith Ayers instead of Pruitt, and promptly got bombed by Ayers, a home run to left, and well deep and without a doubt. Keith certainly could use that one to pull up the hanging corners of his muzzle. John Korb would give up another run to D-Alex and Yoshi in the eighth as the first of three rebellions was firmly squashed. 8-1 Raccoons. Nomura 2-5, RBI; Sambrano 2-4, BB, 2B; Quebell 3-5, HR, 2 RBI; Ayers (PH) 1-1, HR, RBI; Seeley 1-2, 2B, 2 RBI; D. Alexander 2-3, BB; Santos 7.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, W (4-1);

Jason Seeley was now – after not appearing in the last weekend set in Salem due to thigh issues – laboring on a back problem that looked like it would hamper him for the rest of the week. The early nominee for the annual Daniel Hall Health Award was listed as DTD.

Game 2
RIC: 3B Delikat – SS Tolwith – LF E. Clark – RF W. Jones – RF Enriquez – C Little – 1B S. Johnson – 2B Cash – P Alonso
POR: CF Sambrano – 2B Nomura – 1B Quebell – RF J. Alexander – SS Palmer – LF Pruitt – 3B Merritt – C D. Alexander – P Brown

After initially looking to skip him, the Rebels sent Alonso Alonso (3-2, 5.97 ERA) into the middle game after all. Before he could grab the ball, the Rebels were already up 1-0 after a first inning in which Nick Brown not only allowed two hits, but also hit two batters, the first of which was Aaron Tolwith; a number of years ago, Brown nicking Tolwith had sparked an evil brawl with the Loggers. Oh well, it was May, time for him to slowly degrade into mid-season un-form. While Quebell tied the score in the bottom 1st with his fifth homer, taking over the team lead, Brown was socked for two more runs, including a Winston Jones homer, in the top 3rd, an inning in which he expended almost 40 pitches. Jones would drive in another run in the next inning, plating Eli Delikat with a single. Delikat had opened the inning with a double, and by the time five innings were over, the Rebels had struck out nine times, but had also bludgeoned Brownie for 11 hits and six runs. Down 6-2, Bill Conway was tasked with delivering a few innings in relief, but actually pitched only one, in which he didn’t allow a run, but never got a strike past any of the four batters he faced. His turn to bat came up with the bases loaded in the bottom 6th, representing the tying run. Ayers walked to push in a run, after which Sambrano flew out to center, but the Furballs tied the game in the next inning: Yoshi and Quebell got on to get the frame started, chasing Alonso. Ben Lehman got J-Alex and Palmer, but then conceded back-to-back doubles to Pruitt and Merritt to blow a 6-3 lead completely.

Rockburn had already pitched the seventh, and faced only Mike Desan in the eighth. The pinch-hitter doubled, chasing Law and bringing in Sugano for a key strikeout to another pinch-hitter in Jimmy Shank, before Micah Steele appeared to whiff Tolwith, issue a careful walk to Clark, then dispatched of 4-for-4 Winston Jones with another K - … EXCEPT … except that Dylan Alexander couldn’t come up with the ball, which bounced away, and the Rebels loaded the bases on the uncaught third strike. Victor Enriquez, in an 0-2 count, unleashed a furious drive to deep center that nevertheless ended up with Sandy Sambrano, but the Raccoons would strand the go-ahead run at third base just as well in the bottom 8th. Top 9th, Angel Casas allowed a leadoff single to Willie Davenport, then right after that a double to Shawn Johnson, putting two in scoring position with no outs – and the Rebels didn’t score there EITHER. Dean Cash popped up, Desan whiffed, and Earl Robinson grounded out to short. Anybody wanting to win this one?? Certainly not the Coons. Angel Casas found himself in another mess with runners in scoring position and then one out in the top 10th, and this time Enriquez killed him with a hard single to left that scored both runs. The Raccoons went down without a whimper in the bottom of the inning. 8-6 Rebels. Nomura 3-5, BB, RBI; Quebell 2-5, HR, RBI; J. Alexander 2-5; Merritt 2-5, 2B, RBI;

Hmz! Completely ****ty pitching all along in this one. And that was Brownie’s start. What might be in store on Friday when the pushover Yano is out again?

Game 3
RIC: 3B Delikat – SS Tolwith – LF E. Clark – RF W. Jones – CF Enriquez – 1B Shank – C Little – 2B Cash – P Winston
POR: CF Sambrano – 2B Nomura – 1B Quebell – RF J. Alexander – SS Palmer – LF Pruitt – 3B Merritt – C D. Alexander – P Baldwin

Adrian Quebell initially made it look like he’d hit homers in every game in the series, but his first-inning drive was caught right at the wall by Winston Jones. While the Rebels’ middle of the order continued to make hard contact against Raccoons pitching, the first run was issued by a wild Tim Winston in the bottom 3rd, who faced John Alexander with the bases loaded and two outs and walked him. Palmer and Pruitt would come up with singles to throw a 4-spot onto the board. After the top 4th, in which Clark and Jones hit total rockets for outs before Enriquez and Shank hit almost equally hard singles and Morgan Little went down swinging to end the inning, Adrian Quebell DID get hold of another Winston pitch in the bottom 4th. With Baldwin and Sambrano on base and two outs, Quebell crushed a 2-2 pitch to deep right, and that was very high and Winston Jones was waiting at the wall in vain – this one was not coming back. Home run Quebell, 7-0 Critters!

That didn’t help Baldwin to get any better. The Rebels kept raking him, but didn’t get onto the board until the sixth inning, which opened with a walk to Earl Clark, and the Rebels swiftly hit two more hard hits, a single and a double, to knock Baldwin out of this game after 5 1/3 messy innings, ultimately allowing two runs. The bullpen held up for the Coons, despite some close calls with Mullins still in the sixth inning and Thrasher in the ninth. The Raccoons’ offense had done it’s day’s work after bursting out for seven early and rested through the remaining innings. 7-2 Critters. Palmer 2-4, RBI; Pruitt 2-4, 2 RBI; Slayton 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB; 1 K;

Raccoons (22-13) vs. Titans (21-12) – May 11-13, 2012

The Raccoons and Titans were still in a virtual tie in the North after the midweek interleague affairs, three games ahead of the Crusaders. They were sixth in runs scored and second in runs allowed in the Continental League, with a +20 run differential. By comparison, the Raccoons ranked third in either category, and had a +48 run differential. The Titans however so far had taken two of three games from the Critters.

Projected matchups:
Shunyo Yano (1-3, 5.12 ERA) vs. Alex Lindsey (3-2, 5.84 ERA)
Bill Conway (1-3, 6.26 ERA) vs. Melvin Andrade (3-3, 2.45 ERA)
Hector Santos (4-1, 3.18 ERA) vs. TBD

The Titans had played a double-header on Wednesday and had a choice between southpaw Tony Hamlyn (5-1, 3.67 ERA) and right-hander Tommy Wilson (2-4, 5.01 ERA) for the Sunday engagement. If I’m the Titans, against THESE Raccoons, I know whom I’d send. The other two starters for the set were right-handers.

Game 1
BOS: 2B J. Ramirez – LF J. Flores – RF R. Garcia – C Suda – CF J. Gusmán – 1B Hayashi – SS K. Sato – 3B N. Chavez – P Lindsey
POR: 2B Nomura – CF Sambrano – 1B Quebell – RF J. Alexander – LF Pruitt – 3B Merritt – C Bowen – SS M. Gutierrez – P Yano

A Craig Bowen throwing error on Jesus Ramirez’ steal attempt cost the first run in the first inning, and it was earned since Yano allowed a sufficient number of hits around it. The Raccoons had Yoshi and Sandy on in the bottom 1st before Quebell popped out and Alexander hit into a double play. Double plays would be one defining feature of the game, with both teams hitting into a pair of those by the fifth inning, erasing many scoring opportunities. Jesus Flores scored without fielder’s intervention in the top 3rd, hitting a solo home run off Yano, who had little to nothing in terms of stuff. The Raccoons slowly, slowly started to hit. Sambrano got on again with another single in the third inning, stole second – with this time “Quasimodo” Suda throwing the ball to the outfield – and came in on Alexander’s single. The score was tied in the sixth on Quebell’s fourth homer of the week, one a day, with both teams then at two runs.

The useless Yano continued his enraging futility with a leadoff double surrendered to Tokimune Hayashi in the top 7th, after which Steele replaced him and retired Kunimatsu Sato, Nelson Chavez, and Alex Lindsey in order. Steele’s spot came up after a pair of singles had put Merritt and Gutierrez onto the corners with one out in the bottom of the inning. With Lindsey still in, we sent Jason Seeley, who had already pinch-hit the previous day. He sent a 2-0 pitch softly to rightfielder Ricardo Garcia for the second out, but Yoshi singled through Chavez to plate the go-ahead run. Sambrano’s full count walk still didn’t remove Lindsey from the game, despite Quebell appearing with the bases loaded. Despite falling behind 1-2, Quebell then drilled a ball into the gap in right center that Garcia could barely cut off before it got to the wall. Two runs were in for sure, Sandy was sent as well, but was thrown out. Despite that, the Coons were now up by three with six outs to collect. Thrasher retired the two lefties at the top of the order before Garcia singled. Angel Casas was brought in right away rather than messing around with Mullins or Slayton and got Suda to ground out to Gutierrez, then struck out Gusmán and Hayashi in the ninth before Sato lifted out easily to John Alexander to end the game. 5-2 Raccoons. Nomura 2-4, RBI; Sambrano 2-3, BB; Quebell 2-4, HR, 2B, 3 RBI; J. Alexander 2-4, RBI; Gutierrez 2-3, 2B; Casas 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, SV (14);

Who’s in first!? Who’s in first!?

Maybe I should cut down on the cockiness as long as they can still stick us into second place while they’re in town…

Jason Seeley also doesn’t get much better. Maybe it’s that he doesn’t get rest. I’ll try and stay away from him completely for the rest of the weekend.

Game 2
BOS: 2B J. Ramirez – LF J. Flores – RF R. Garcia – C Suda – CF J. Gusmán – 1B Hayashi – SS K. Sato – 3B N. Chavez – P Andrade
POR: 2B Nomura – CF Sambrano – 1B Quebell – LF Pruitt – SS Palmer – 3B Merritt – C D. Alexander – RF Ayers – P Conway

Jesus Ramirez opened the game with a home run as Bill Conway actively tried to pitch himself into a free ride to Florida, where we’d feed him to the alligators. The damage wasn’t fatal yet, although a completely crummy Conway required double plays being turned in both the first and second inning in order to not drown in hostile runs early. Quebell tied the score with a run-scoring groundout in the bottom 1st, but also handed the Titans a good chance later in the game with an error that put leadoff man Ramirez on base, but the Titans wouldn’t score then.

After the first-inning run on each side, neither team managed to stitch something together well into the deeper innings. Conway still wasn’t fooling many batters, but got a few timely pops to help himself out. Bottom 6th then, and Sandy drew a leadoff walk against Andrade, the fourth free pass by the Boston hurler. Sambrano stole second base, which prompted the Titans to bypass the red-hot Quebell and would rather pitch to Pruitt with two on and nobody out. Pruitt hit a 2-0 pitch hard to right, but into an out (his BABIP was going down again…), Sandy moved to third, but then Palmer walked anyway. The Titans’ pitching coach had a few choice words for Andrade that had no effect: Merritt and D-Alex hit back-to-back singles to plate three runs as the Raccoons broke out into a 4-1 lead. Conway started the seventh, only to allow a leadoff single to Gusmán. Mullins came in against Toki Hayashi, who took ball one, then bunted foul twice, and eventually hit a double into the gap in left center. Thrasher replaced Mullins as I was grinding my teeth, which didn’t get better after a Kuni Sato single, then a sac fly, and soon the Titans had also the go-ahead run on base. Micah Steele faced Alexis Legendre with two outs and two on in a 4-3 game and struck him out to escape a real mess.

The Critters also had their first two guys on in the bottom 7th. Brett Gentry had entered with Steele in a double switch and led off with a double over the head of Gusmán in center before the Titans had “Dodo” Iwase walk Yoshi Nomura intentionally. That worked well: Sambrano hit into a 4-6-3 double play, and then they could also walk Quebell intentionally. That one didn’t work well, though. Pruitt walked unintentionally in a full count, and then Palmer dinked a pitch into center for an RBI single, 5-3. Iwase was also in for the bottom of the eighth, allowing a 1-out pinch-hit single to John Alexander. Gentry hit another double, this one to right center and scoring the runner, and ANOTHER intentional walk to Yoshi followed. Iemitsu Rin was then brought in to contain the righty-killing portion of the lineup that was to come up, retired Sambrano on a first-pitch fly to left, easy, easy, before Quebell ripped the first pitch he saw to deep right, but this one lacked the height and “only” rammed off the wall for an RBI double. 7-3 Coons! Quebell 1-2, 3 BB, 2B, 2 RBI; Palmer 2-3, BB, RBI; Merritt 2-4, RBI; J. Alexander (PH) 1-1; Gentry 2-2, 2 2B, RBI;

Who’s in first!? Who’s in first!?

Well, we CAN’T drop out this week! They will get a tough customer in Tony Hamlyn in game three, however…

Game 3
BOS: 2B J. Ramirez – LF J. Flores – RF R. Garcia – C Suda – CF Gusmán – 1B Hayashi – SS K. Sato – 3B N. Chavez – P Hamlyn
POR: 2B Sambrano – SS Palmer – CF J. Alexander – 1B Quebell – 3B Merritt – LF Gentry – C D. Alexander – RF Ayers – P Santos

Another day, another leadoff homer by Jesus Ramirez… and the Raccoons began THIS one down 1-0. Santos struck out the next three, including Ricardo Garcia, who left the game with an injury after throwing himself into a burning rocket with spikes protruding in all directions off the bat of Quebell. That catch ended the bottom 1st, and Jesus Rivera replaced Garcia in the field, giving the Bostonians a triple-Jesus at the top of the order.

Dylan Alexander killed the bottom 2nd with a double play, but when Keith Ayers drew a leadoff walk in the bottom 3rd, Santos bunted him over before Sambrano flipped the score mostly on his own with a double well past Jesus Flores in left, then in a gutsy move stole third base and scored on Palmer’s groundout to get the Coons into a 2-1 lead that would not last for long. Santos put Sato on to start the fifth, got two outs from Chavez and Hamlyn, but then Ramirez singled and Flores doubled in two runs. Triple-Jesus became triple-damage once Keith Ayers dropped Rivera’s fly ball for a run-scoring error, putting Santos in a 4-2 hole. The Raccoons then got D-Alex on with a walk and Ayers with a single to start the bottom of the inning. Santos bunted the tying runs into scoring position, and then Sambrano hit a ball hard to left that - … would NOT get the runners in, as Kuni Sato made a marvelous play to not only intercept the ball, but throw out Sambrano at first, which might have been deemed impossible on paper. Impossible ball continued: Hamlyn balked in the first run, and then Palmer’s chopper was thrown wildly by Nelson Chavez and pulled Hayashi off the base, allowing the tying run to score, 4-4. And after all that hard work, Santos went out and drilled the leadoff man Gusmán in the top 6th, who stole a bases and sure as heck scored on a Sato single to give the Titans a new 5-4 lead.

Oh, COME ON SANTOS!! Show some ****ing guts!!

The same was true for the rest of the team. The tying run was on base in the sixth and seventh innings, and they never had another good at-bat, and then Law Rockburn got into the top 8th and was just blasted off the mound. Gusmán led off with a double, Hayashi homered, and Sato had his 28th hit in the series after that. Rockburn was burned for four runs as the Titans took that game forcefully away from the Critters, despite two home runs flying out of the park in the home team’s innings before this game was over. John Alexander homered off Hamlyn in the bottom of the eighth, a solo job, and it was another solo home run for Dylan Alexander in the ninth, that one off Tommy Wooldridge. 9-6 Titans. J. Alexander 2-4, HR, RBI; Gentry 2-4; D. Alexander 2-3, BB, HR, RBI; Gutierrez (PH) 1-1, 2B;

In other news

May 9 – SAC CL Johnny Smith (2-2, 3.14 ERA, 5 SV) finishes off the Falcons in a 1-0 Scorpions for his 400th career save.
May 12 – Old man still has it! 39-year old PIT SP Takeru Sato (4-4, 4.61 ERA) 1-hits the Buffaloes in a 4-0 shutout. Jim Brulhart’s leadoff single in the fifth is the only base hit for Topeka.
May 12 – The Wolves get some pretty crippling news, losing two pitchers for the rest of the year: SP Brian Benjamin (1-1, 1.76 ERA) needs to have bone chips removed from his elbow, while CL Cris Pena (0-3, 6.75 ERA, 3 SV) has fractured the coracoid bone in his shoulder.

Complaints and stuff

Obviously, Adrian Quebell was on a terrific tear this week, batting .391 (9-for-23) with 4 HR and 11 RBI, which easily won him Player of the Week honors.

Okay, our rotation has some grave issues. They are barely average, and nobody has an ERA better than 3.50 … The unfortunate news is that Rich Hood in AAA also got creamed his last time out and now has a 3.69 ERA, but at some point it might be wise to be just roll the dice. The main question would be whom to dump from the rotation, since nobody is really getting anything done right now.

Also with issues: Tony Hamlyn, who is second only to Martin Garcia in all-time strikeouts with 3,347. That’s still some 400 off Garcia’s mark of 3,783, but increasingly it looks like the 37-year old Hamlyn might run out of juice well shy of 3,783. He struck out 270 as recently as 2010. But the routine 9.5 K/9 ace dropped to 6.3 K/9 in ’11, and is barely above that in ’12. On Sunday, he went eight innings and struck out only ONE Raccoon. Well, he got the W, he should not be complaining too badly.

Sandy Sambrano meanwhile is up to second place in stolen bases in all of the ABL, with only Vancouver’s Ross Holland leading him with 12 sacks taken. Sambrano took 34 in 56 attempts in ’11 (61%), and is 65-for-98 (66%) for his career, but this year so far he’s 10-for-12 (83%). He’s also well better with the stick than any year before, but that brings up two points. A) Ride him while it lasts and we have injuries, and B) He’s only turned 24, maybe he’s still getting better!

Sambrano will be arbitration eligible twice more, so the possibilities are certainly interesting with his universatility in the field. Well, to be looking ahead (which is dangerous, but c’mon let’s play!), Ricardo Carmona, unless his arm falls off, might be the centerfielder of the future for the Coons, but Sambrano could well inherit leftfield from Matt Pruitt when he becomes a free agent, which won’t be until after the 2013 season, being five days of service time short of qualifying for free agency in ’12.


1st – Moromao Hino – 485
2nd – Diego Rodriguez – 460 (HOF)
3rd – Cristo Ramirez – 424 (technically still active)
4th – Daniel Silva – 409 (active)
5th – Paul Connolly – 366 (HOF)
6th – Xiao-wei Li – 357
t-7th – Dave Heffer – 341 (active)
t-7th – Bartolo Hernandez – 341 (active)
9th – Clement Clark – 331
10th – Martin Ortíz – 330 (active)

27th – Matt Higgins – 223
t-36th – Conceicao Guerin – 209 (active)
61st – Juan Barrón – 174 (active)
62nd – Tomas Castro – 173 (active)
70th – David Brewer – 162 (HOF)
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Portland Raccoons, 55 years of excell-.... of baseball: Furballs here!
1983 * 1989 * 1991 * 1992 * 1993 * 1995 * 1996 * 2010 * 2017 * 2018 * 2019 * 2026 * 2028
: 2 POWELL : 8 REECE : 10 BROWN : 15 HALL : 28 CASAS : 32 WEST : 46 SAITO

Resident Mets Cynic

Last edited by Westheim; 05-21-2016 at 07:47 PM.
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Old 05-22-2016, 04:22 PM   #1858
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Raccoons (24-14) vs. Indians (16-22) – May 14-17, 2012

Scoring was not the Indians’ problem. They ranked fifth in runs scored, with a pretty good .277 team batting average. But when you turned to have a look at their pitching, it was quite the frightening sight. Completely uncharacteristically for an Indians team, their pitching was abysmally bad. The rotation ran up a 5.41 ERA, and despite the bullpen being somewhere between half-decent and mediocre they ranked dead-last in runs allowed in the Continental League. We hadn’t played them yet in 2012, and we had gotten drummed by them 6-12 last season. Time for revenge!

Projected matchups:
Nick Brown (4-1, 3.51 ERA) vs. Tom Weise (3-4, 5.43 ERA)
Colin Baldwin (4-1, 3.50 ERA) vs. Juan Bernard (1-5, 11.48 ERA)
Shunyo Yano (1-3, 4.84 ERA) vs. Tristan Broun (0-3, 10.07 ERA)
Bill Conway (2-3, 5.67 ERA) vs. Samuel McMullen (0-3, 4.13 ERA)

Good news first: looks like we’ll miss Curtis Tobitt (4-1, 2.97 ERA), who pitched on Sunday. Bad news: except for Tom Weise, all their guys that are lined up for this set are left-handed.

Game 1
IND: CF Tanner – C Padilla – RF J. Ortíz – 2B Kym – 1B Tsung – LF Bayle – SS R. Miller – 3B Reece – P Weise
POR: 2B Nomura – CF Sambrano – 1B Quebell – RF J. Alexander – LF Pruitt – SS Palmer – 3B Merritt – C Bowen – P Brown

After Rowan Tanner singled on the first pitch and drilling Korean import Jong-beom Kym, whom the Indians had picked up as international free agent last winter, Brownie was mostly fine, with the Indians not getting another hit off him until Sonny Reece singled with two outs in the fifth inning. The Raccoons’ output however was nothing to write home about. Twice through the order, they had three hits, two of those by Pruitt, including a triple in the fourth inning after which he scored on Palmer’s sac fly to Juan Ortíz in right.

With Brown on 11 strikeouts but also 90 pitches through six inning, Palmer found himself with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom 6th. Weise showed the first signs of crumbling, walking Quebell and allowing singles to J-Alex and Pruitt. Palmer was no help, grounding to the third baseman Reece who killed off Quebell at home, but Jon Merritt worked a bases-loaded walk with two outs to put a second run on the board. Brown struck out Ortíz and Kym in the seventh inning but crossed over 110 pitches, and we would need some qualified relief to get this one home for him. Brown was hit for in the bottom of the seventh to no great effect before the bullpen set out to set fire to his 2-0 lead. Steele allowed a single to Ryan Miller before fanning Reece, but when lefty Yohan Bonneau hit for Weise, Thrasher was brought in. That was not a good move in any way, shape or form. Formless Thrasher walked Bonneau, then also walked PH Jose Paraz to fill the sacks. Angel Casas was brought in to pitch a 5-out save in a most dire emergency. Dave Padilla hit a 1-1 pitch real hard, but right to Palmer for the second out before Ortíz fouled out to end the inning. The madness wasn’t over yet, however. Casas began the ninth by drilling Kym (who now had three welts for the season, and two of those from this game) before striking out Mun-wah Tsung. Ming Kui hit for Jimmy Bayle, and Kui had a history of killing Coons, but now grounded to Nomura – and Yoshi’s throw went over Palmer’s glove! No!! Error! Tying runs on base! Ryan Miller grounded to Merritt, who got the force on the lead runner, bringing up the grizzled veteran Sonny Reece, the versatile slayer of many a team. Angel mowed him down in three pitches to end this nerve-twister. 2-0 Brownies! Pruitt 3-4, 3B; Brown 7.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 13 K, W (5-1);

BROWNIE!!! After this torrid performance, that saw him claim the top spot in strikeouts in 2012 ahead of VAN Rod Taylor (71 to 68), he can even achieve a tie for 23rd place on the all time strikeout table in his next start. He would only need to whiff a lowly ten Aces for that.

Game 2
IND: CF Tanner – C Padilla – RF J. Ortíz – 2B Kym – 1B Tsung – SS R. Miller – LF Bonneau – 3B Reece – P Bernard
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – 1B Pruitt – CF J. Alexander – LF Gentry – 3B Merritt – C D. Alexander – RF Ayers – P Baldwin

After Brownie extinguished the Indians for seven innings on Monday, Baldwin was close to imploding in a 34-pitch first inning, allowing two singles, two walks, one run, and two really hard deep flies that Keith Ayers caught close to the wall. But sucking was one thing, yet out-sucking Bernard was another entirely. And initially the Raccoons whacked Bernard well, three extra-base hits in the first inning including a Nomura triple and doubles by Pruitt and Gentry plating two runs, and in addition to that Ayers had Baldwin’s back and got an outfield assist to throw out Ryan Miller at third base in the top of the fourth. But… there was only so many things that the defense could defend. After scoring three runs in the first two innings, the Coons stopped just like that, while Juan Ortíz hit a 2-run homer to tie the game in the fifth, and in the sixth Miller had another leadoff single, then scored on a blooper hit with two outs by… Bernard. Humiliation got more humiliating when Merritt’s throwing error also plated Bernard on Rowan Tanner’s grounder. Despite a Reece home run in the eighth running the score to 6-3 for the Indians, the Coons had the tying run at the plate in the bottom 8th, with nobody out. Palmer and Pruitt had reached base ahead of John Alexander, who faced lefty Ryan O’Quinn and singled to right on the first pitch. Bases loaded, Brock Bose, a right-hander, appeared to face Brett Gentry, but we moved to Adrian Quebell to pinch-hit. Quebell walked on four pitches before Seeley hit for Manobu Sugano, who had been bombed in the top of the inning. He struck out before Dylan Alexander hit a 3-0 pitch into a double play. Nomura and Palmer would even manufacture a run in the bottom 9th, but Dylan Alexander had completely blown it. 6-5 Indians. Nomura 2-5, 3B, 2B, RBI; Palmer 2-5, 2 RBI; Pruitt 2-5, 2B; Gentry 1-2, BB, 2B, RBI; Ayers 2-4;

The brainless dumb**** Dylan Alexander will be benched until I can find a place that takes brainless dumb****s. The dog food factory might be a spot to ask.

Game 3
IND: CF Tanner – LF Kui – 2B Kym – RF J. Ortíz – C Paraz – 1B Tsung – SS R. Miller – 3B Reece – P Broun
POR: SS Palmer – LF Gentry – 2B Sambrano – 1B Quebell – CF Seeley – 3B Merritt – RF Ayers – C Bowen – P Yano

I was on the window of the office with my trusted shotgun, which was loaded with rusty metal shards, ready to unload it into any brown-clad slacker I could spot. The first inning was certainly to my liking. The Raccoons batted through the order, plating three runs with a 2-run double by Seeley and a bases-loaded walk drawn by Bowen responsible for the runs. They got only one more run on Tristan Broun, with Seeley singling, stealing, scoring in the third, but it wasn’t their fault. Broun left with an injury three innings into the game, handing the ball to Sadakuno Imamura. Both pitchers however shared the K/BB stat being quiet definitely under 1, however. Aside from the early onslaught, however, double plays were the call of the day for the Raccoons. Gentry hit into one, Merritt – of course – hit into one through five. Shunyo Yano held up nicely through five, maintaining a 2-hitter, but started to swim in the sixth. The Indians’ Kui and Ortíz had singles and with two outs and in a full count Jose Paraz lined a pitch to the right side – SAMBRANO WITH A LEAPING CATCH! That was AMAZING!!

The rest of the mess didn’t untangle into a deciding blow at all. Gentry hit into another double play to kill the bottom 7th. Long man Aaron Walsh then drilled Sambrano to give the Coons another base runner, and Sambrano took second base easily from Paraz, then scored on Quebel’s single after all to make it 5-0. Indians righty Wade Davis issued three walks in the eighth without allowing a run, but Sugano and Slayton maintained the shutout. 5-0 Coons. Palmer 2-3, 2 BB; Quebell 2-3, BB, RBI; Seeley 3-3, BB, 2 2B, 2 RBI; Yano 7.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 K, W (2-3) and 1-3; Slayton 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K;

Okay, Baldwin is trending south, Yano might be trending north. Now let’s see what Conway can give us.

Game 4
IND: CF Tanner – LF Kui – 2B Kym – RF J. Ortíz – C Paraz – 1B Tsung – SS R. Miller – 3B Reece – P McMullen
POR: SS Palmer – 2B Nomura – LF Sambrano – 1B Quebell – CF Seeley – 3B Merritt – RF Ayers – C Bowen – P Conway

Tanner humped a pathetic Conway pitch for a moonshot to start the game, and the ball kept flying off the bats in the tops of innings. There was a double in the second, but otherwise the outfielders made a few nice plays, which of course didn’t mean that Conway’s pitching was any good. The Raccoons would flip the score in the bottom 4th after Sambrano reached on a throwing error and Merritt and Ayers came up with back-to-back 2-out RBI doubles, but that didn’t last, and Jong-beom Kym hit a 2-run bomb in the sixth to put Conway back into a 3-2 hole. The Raccoons had had the odd base runner here and there against Sam McMullen, but once the bullpen took over after the sixth, they were reduced to nothing. The Coons’ own pen almost gave out in the eighth, neither Mullins nor Thrasher being a great help. Mullins issued a leadoff walk to Kui, and Thrasher drilled Ortíz. Rockburn restored order, but that didn’t help the team to score anything. 3-2 Indians. Merritt 2-4, 2B, RBI; Rockburn 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K;

I would like to know this really hard. Why are the Raccoons so goddamn awful against the Indians …?

Nevertheless, I was unhappy with … everything. Thus I declared the time of Rich Hood to have arrived. Slayton was sent to AAA because he had options and Mullins did not, and Conway was moved to long relief. Hood was penciled in for Sunday, the last game of the homestand. We also sent Brett Gentry to AAA as Tomas Castro came off the DL. Gentry had batted .278 in his short time up.

Raccoons (26-16) vs. Aces (18-22) – May 18-20, 2012

The Aces were in the bottom 3 in both runs scored and runs allowed, with the worst bullpen in the league, just short of a 5 ERA. We have won the season series three straight years, with back-to-back 5-4 outcomes.

Projected matchups:
Hector Santos (4-2, 3.55 ERA) vs. Jaquan Wagoner (2-5, 3.04 ERA)
Nick Brown (5-1, 3.13 ERA) vs. Juan Valdevez (4-1, 1.88 ERA)
Rich Hood (0-0) vs. Anthony Bryant (3-4, 6.15 ERA)

With Rich Hood called up for his major league debut, we now have three left-handed pitchers in the rotation. Hood was our first-rounder, #14 overall, in the 2009 draft. He was the #90 prospect before the 2010 season, but has not been ranked since. He has a 92mph heater accompanied by a very good curve, a pretty good slider, and a crummy changeup that he throws maybe once or twice a game just to throw guys off.

We will see a fourth left-hander this week, with Bryant on Sunday also coming from the south side. This is not good at all for the Raccoons, who can’t hit left-handers at all…

Game 1
LVA: SS Avila – 2B Downing – CF Shearing – RF Bednarski – C Durango – LF Richards – 1B McDermott – 3B F. Soto – P Wagoner
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – 1B Quebell – RF J. Alexander – LF Pruitt – CF Seeley – 3B Merritt – C Bowen – P Santos

Santos didn’t have much in terms of stuff and the Aces merrily singled away, with Wagoner driving in the first run on a 2-out RBI single in the top 2nd. That was already bad enough but they added another run on Ricky Avila’s single, and the Raccoons were in a 2-0 hole once more. Francisco Soto hit a leadoff double in the fifth but was thrown out at third base by Bowen on Wagoner’s bunt. Through four, the Furballs hadn’t put up as much as a mean face, but Bowen opened the bottom 5th with a double to left, and they had the bases loaded after a pitch grazed Nomura and Palmer singled to left. Quebell grounded a first pitch very slowly up the first base line, McDermott hustled in and tried to get Bowen at home, but missed the pickup and overran the ball, getting nobody at all as the Coons got an unearned run, but it was earned as well on Wagoner once J-Alex singled to right and scored two, flipping the score to 3-2 Coons. Although they turned double plays for Santos in both the sixth and seventh, the Aces still grinded out the tying run in the latter inning after Ron Richards had a leadoff double.

Bottom 7th, Chris Spindler started his inning with walks to Nomura and Palmer, which should be ample opportunity to take the lead again, especially with Spindler throwing right-handed and nothing but lefties coming up, but Quebell hit into a double play and Alexander hit one of those ****ty pops. Pruitt hit a leadoff single in the eighth, and nothing happened after that. Ron Thrasher struck out the side in the top 9th to give the team a chance to walk off against Ryosei Kato. Sambrano hit for Thrasher and singled to right, and Yoshi laid down his annual bunt to get him to second base. Palmer singled to right, but the ball just barely whizzed past Josh Downing and Mike Bednarski was all over it, and so Sambrano was held at third base. That opened us up to another double play by Quebell and indeed he grounded to Downing, but Palmer had been running with Kato going to the plate and so Downing decided to fire home where Sambrano slid past Eduardo Durango at high speed – SAFE!! 4-3 Raccoons! Palmer 3-4, BB; Sambrano (PH) 1-1; Santos 8.0 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K;

Game 2
LVA: SS Avila – LF Melendez – C Durango – RF Bednarski – CF Shearing – 2B Downing – 1B McDermott – 3B F. Soto – P Valdevez
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – 1B Quebell – RF J. Alexander – LF Pruitt – CF Castro – C Bowen – 3B M. Gutierrez – P Brown

The Raccoons put three of their first four batters on in the bottom 1st before both Pruitt and Bowen came up with 2-run doubles to show Valdevez what a 2+ ERA looked like. Brown was perfect the first time through the order, but unfortunately that took him 49 pitches, so this would probably not be a shutout, and he was just shy of 80 pitches after five, striking out seven, but … 80 pitches! *Thankfully*, Francisco Soto hit a 1-out single in the top 6th, nixing any bid there might have been, because I know myself quite well and I would have ridden Brownie for 148 pitches with a perfect game on the table…

Brown ultimately went seven innings, whiffing eight, and was hit for at the start of the Coons’ half of the seventh inning. At that point it was still a 4-0 game and Valdevez had allowed only two runners since the second inning. Seeley hit for Brownie, wrestled a walk from Valdevez, and once Yoshi singled, the Aces’ pitcher was gone as well. Dave Hughes came in and allowed an RBI double to Palmer on the first pitch, then walked Quebell to load them up. Alexander whiffed, Pruitt popped, but Castro lined a pitch over the head of Sean McDermott to drive in two on the double. Up 7-0, we went to the pen. Kyle Mullins got his filthy paws onto a ball and got clobbered for three hard hits and two runs before Manobu Sugano rescued him, and also finished the game. 7-2 Brownies! Nomura 3-5, 2B; Palmer 2-5, 2B, RBI; Quebell 1-2, 2 BB, 2B; J. Alexander 2-4; Brown 7.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K, W (6-1); Sugano 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K;

So, no movement on the strikeout table today, but hey, he whiffed 21 this week in 14 innings, allowed only four hits and no runs. Nice bounceback from the creaming he received from the Rebels!

Game 3
LVA: SS Avila – LF Melendez – C Durango – RF Bednarski – CF Shearing – 2B Downing – 1B McDermott – 3B F. Soto – P Bryant
POR: 2B Sambrano – SS Palmer – 1B Quebell – LF Pruitt – 3B Merritt – CF Seeley – RF Ayers – C D. Alexander – P Hood

Welcome to da Hood! – I wanted to say that ever since drafting him.

Jon Merritt immediately introduced the recently-minted 25-year old debutee to his defense, making an error in the first that created a two on, one out pinch that Hood just barely wiggled out of. Sandy then drew a walk to get the Coons going, stole second off Durango’s murder arm, and scored on Palmer’s single. Once Quebell hit into a double play, the Raccoons’ offensive ambitions seemingly ended, while Hood scraped past for a while on feeding grounders to the infielders, but was not very convincing overall, didn’t get into good counts, and with two outs in the fourth was torn to shreds in a 3-run outburst fueled by Josh Downing’s triple, a single by Sean McDermott, and finally a Soto homer. Francisco Soto would hit another one, a solo job, in the seventh inning, and a Jon Merritt home run aside the Raccoons weren’t even in the ballpark in the bottoms of innings. They trailed 4-2 in the middle of the seventh with Hood thoroughly done. J-Alex had a 2-out single in his place in the bottom 7th that wasn’t going to lead to anything, and in the bottom 8th Palmer was on before Quebell hit into another double play. 4-2 Aces. Palmer 2-3, BB, 2B, RBI; Pruitt 2-4; J. Alexander (PH) 1-1;

Double play, double play, double play. Hey, whenever Quebell is up next, why not save everyone the hassle and take off the runner on first right away?

In other news

May 14 – Torn ankle ligaments force CIN C Jayden Jolley (.238, 1 HR, 11 RBI) out of action. He might miss most of the remainder of the season.
May 15 – Atlanta’s Dave Butler (4-2, 3.90 ERA) 2-hits the Aces in a 6-0 shutout.
May 16 – SFW LF/1B Gil Gross (.307, 10 HR, 38 RBI) not only has five hits in the Warriors’ 8-6 loss to the Scorpions, but also hits for the CYCLE once he hits a grand slam off Shi-young Oe in the eighth inning. The 47th cycle in ABL history is the Warriors’ first in almost 20 years (Chris Lynch, 1979; Claude Martin, 1993). For the last two years there has been only one cycle per year, and both came in May.
May 16 – LVA INF Howard Jones (.286, 0 HR, 9 RBI) might be out for the next month with a sprained ankle.
May 17 – More injury news, as PIT C Bartholomeu Pino (.260, 2 HR, 21 RBI) ends up on the DL with a broken rib and might not be back until July.
May 19 – NYC CL Scott Hood (1-1, 3.95 ERA, 6 SV) locks up his 400th save by protecting the Crusaders’ 5-3 lead over the Falcons. The 36-year old second-rounder, taken in ’98 by the Gold Sox, has appeared in 842 games in his career and has maintained a 1.96 ERA, while striking out 1,154 batters. He was also the Federal League’s first Reliever of the Year in 2004, and won three rings with the Crusaders in his career.
May 20 – More injury woes for the Cyclones, who lose RF/LF Jose Silva (.323, 1 HR, 18 RBI) after the 29-year old broke his elbow. He is assumed out for the season.
May 20 – SFB C Antonio Ramirez (.258, 0 HR, 15 RBI) tore a ligament in his thumb and might miss three to four weeks.

Complaints and stuff

Interesting tidbit: Nick Brown has yet to pitch a game this year in which he allows one or two runs. In ten starts, he’s been unharmed four times, but he allowed three runs three times, four runs twice, and six runs once. Bit of feast and famine here, but the end result is good enough, I guess. I’m not spitting someone on pace for 269 strikeouts in the face!

Next up are the Thunder for the Coons, who started the season 13-0, and also started May 16-2 before getting routed by the Loggers on Saturday and Sunday. Of their 11 losses, five were by one run, but three were by six runs or more.

Hey, here’s something wonky and funny. Let’s have a look at every pitcher on the roster and where they rank in terms of franchise strikeouts!

1st – Nick Brown – 2,376
2nd – Kisho Saito – 2,322

12th – Marcos Bruno – 629
13th – Angel Casas – 561
14th – Jong-hoo Umberger – 542
15th – Colin Baldwin – 529
t-16th – Daniel Miller – 511
t-16th – Juan Martinez – 511

26th – Felipe Garcia – 365
27th – Lawrence Rockburn – 357
28th – Raimundo Beato – 353

t-54th – Ed Bryan – 170
t-54th – Bill Conway – 170
56th – Gil McDonald – 169

61st – Charles Young – 144
62nd – Ron Thrasher – 139
t-63rd – Jerry Ackerman – 132
t-63rd – David Jones – 132

68th – Pat Slayton – 116
t-69th – Hector Santos – 111
t-69th – Tony Vela – 111

t-138th – Yasushi Suto – 32
t-138th – Justin Neubauer – 32
t-138th – Kyle Mullins – 32
t-141st – Shunyo Yano – 31
t-141st – Benton Wilson – 31

t-156th – Rich Hughes – 17
t-156th – Carlos Sackett – 17
t-156th – Manobu Sugano – 17
t-159th – Micah Steele – 15
t-159th – Iván Diaz – 15

t-194th – Dean Hood – 4
t-194th – Hisanobui Higuchi – 4
t-194th – Cody Bryant – 4
t-194th – Carlos De Los Angeles – 4
t-194th – Rich Hood – 4
t-199th – Jake Pitts – 3
t-199th – Dave Beck – 3
t-199th – Robbie McNeill – 3

Pretty wonky!

Who’s ranked exactly 100th with 66 K? Esteban Flores, who was a starter for the 1997-1999 Coons, at times. Flores holds the distinction of the worst winning percentage (.125) of any Raccoons pitcher with at least ten decisions at 2-14. Only two others are worse than .250: Matt Huber (2-8) and Gary Simmons (12-37), both of whom saw action in the 70s, so you know what to expect from them.
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Raccoons (28-17) @ Thunder (33-11) – May 22-24, 2012

We hadn’t played the Thunder yet, and I wasn’t looking forward to it. They had been good last year and we had taken the season series 5-4, but they were quite obscenely good right now, and the Raccoons not so much. Most runs scored, least runs allowed was only where it started for them. If there was a weakness about the roster it was that they were close to the bottom of the Continental League in extra-base hits, but they compensated for that by suffocating the opposition with singles.

Projected matchups:
Colin Baldwin (4-2, 3.81 ERA) vs. William Raven (3-2, 2.95 ERA)
Shunyo Yano (2-3, 4.18 ERA) vs. Edgar Amador (2-0, 4.50 ERA)
Hector Santos (4-2, 3.52 ERA) vs. Daniel Dickerson (5-1, 3.15 ERA)

Three right-handers. We might see a lefty in Dave Butler on Friday, but the week is long, and much can happen.

Game 1
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – 1B Quebell – RF J. Alexander – LF Pruitt – CF Castro – 3B Merritt – C D. Alexander – P Baldwin
OCT: SS Farias – C J. Martinez – 2B D. McCormick – RF M. Cruz – CF Kim – 3B Reese – 1B J. Roberts – LF Matthews – P Raven

Until Jimmy Roberts struck out and Jeffrey Matthews popped out foul, it looked well like the Thunder would eat up all of Baldwin in a single inning. They rocked him for five hits in the first inning, all but Jesus Martinez’ triple being singles. Only two runs scored before Roberts and Matthews left three men on. Baldwin was unable to reign himself in and was charged with another run before excusing himself with a barking something in his throwing apparatus. Bill Conway took over and the mess just got bigger with that. Offensively, the Raccoons had two on in the second, wasted that, then didn’t really hassle Raven much for the rest of his six innings. John Alexander singled on a 3-0 pitch at one point, then was caught stealing. Palmer hit a leadoff single against Dave Crawford in the eighth, but Quebell grounded right and fat into a double play. The Coons were held to five singles and were locked away safely and quickly in this one. 5-0 Thunder. D. Alexander 2-3;

Game 2
POR: 2B Nomura – CF Sambrano – 1B Quebell – RF J. Alexander – LF Seeley – SS Palmer – 3B Merritt – C D. Alexander – P Yano
OCT: 2B Farias – 1B J. Roberts – 3B D. McCormick – RF Reese – C J. Martinez – CF Matthews – SS Janes – LF A. Rodriguez – P Amador

Bottom 1st, Yano allowed singles to Emilio Farias and Jimmy Roberts, then graciously walked Dave McCormick to fill them up. The Thunder scored two on Tom Reese’s groundout and a sac fly by Martinez before the Raccoons got their own chance with the bases loaded and nobody down in the top of the second inning. Seeley and Merritt had hit singles while Palmer had been plunked. Two pops surrounding Yano’s strikeout resolved this situation wholly in the favor of the home team.

At least the bleeding didn’t go on right away and Yano put up two scoreless before Jason Seeley drilled a leadoff jack in the fourth inning to get the Raccoons back to within a lone run. They put two more runners on base, Yano bunted them into scoring position, and then Yoshi Nomura struck out in flailing fashion to strand them, after which things went on by Yano issuing a leadoff walk in the bottom 4th before serving up a can of peas to Erik Janes, who splattered them all over the rightfield bleachers, putting the Thunder ahead 4-1. Yano wound up getting knocked out in the next inning, allowing three hard hits and a run before Manobu Sugano replaced him with two outs and would have escalated things further if Merritt hadn’t made a diving catch on Jesus Martinez’ low line to left. Even more impressive was the flying grab that Tom Reese made on Matt Pruitt’s drive into the gap in right center in the top of the next inning, ending it. Pruitt had batted for Sugano with runners on the corners, but somebody put in the 2011 tape and he never had a chance. Ron Thrasher was charged with a run in the seventh, while the Fat Cat hardly missed a beat and pitched into the eighth with ease, only being chased when Jason Seeley had his fourth hit of the day. Outside of Seeley, the lineup continued to be pretty much dead. 6-1 Thunder. Seeley 4-4, HR, 2B, RBI; Merritt 2-4;

Game 3
POR: 2B Nomura – CF Sambrano – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – RF Seeley – SS Palmer – 3B Merritt – C D. Alexander – P Santos
OCT: 2B Farias – 1B J. Roberts – 3B D. McCormick – RF Reese – C J. Martinez – CF Matthews – SS Janes – LF V. Diaz – P Dickerson

Santos got through the first inning unharmed, which would have been reason for joy if he hadn’t been turned into hamburgers in the second inning. What started innocently enough with a Tom Reese single soon led to another single by Martinez, an RBI double by Matthews, and the pile got bigger at an alarming rate. Down three runs and with a man on second base with two outs, Santos allowed a single right over the second base bag to Farias, 4-0, and then finally Jimmy Roberts conquered him with a booming home run that wasn’t going to come down until crossing over into Texas.

Well. Hector. That’s a 6-0 hole. It’s all your fault. We killed the pen the last two days already. So see for yourself how you clean this **** up.

Yeah, I’m great. Always the motivator, especially with young players. They need guidance. Except for Santos, who needed a butcher. The third inning started with two more singles, but despite Seeley throwing out Jesus Martinez at third base for the first out of the inning, Santos just kept getting impaled. A wild pitch moved Jeffrey Matthews to third base before he walked Janes anyway. Vinny Diaz hit a 2-run triple… and everything was pointless. **** it. Conway was back in for the fourth inning, and neatly fit in with a leadoff homer allowed to Jimmy Roberts. By then the score was 9-1, by the way, but it was not necessary to count. Only one team was playing baseball anyway, give or take a Sambrano RBI double in the top 5th that closed the gap all the way to 9-2. This time Conway wasn’t even getting through two innings, let alone three, but managed to throw 12 straight balls to three Thunder in the bottom 5th. Martinez – always the killer – hit a 2-out, 2-run single then to knock him from the game. Ron Thrasher had already pitched in the sixth inning on Wednesday, now was called into the fifth in a blowout, and surrendered another run on a fat RBI single by Matthews. This game just kept on giving. Daniel Dickerson went eight and was charged with four runs, of which half were unearned. 14-4 Thunder. Nomura 2-5; Sambrano 2-5, 3B, 2B, 2 RBI; Pruitt 2-4, 2B, RBI;

Well. ****.

Raccoons (28-20) @ Knights (18-27) – May 25-27, 2012

The Thunder’s exploits meant that although not all was completely bad for the Knights, they were already a raging 17 games out in the South and it wasn’t even June yet. They sat ninth in both runs scored and runs allowed in the Continental League, and their starters’ 4.19 ERA was better than the Raccoons’ mark by now, which sat at 4.22 ERA, with these teams sitting squarely in the middle of the starters’ ERA table in sixth and seventh. We had so far taken two of three games from them.

Projected matchups:
Nick Brown (6-1, 2.82 ERA) vs. Art Cox (2-3, 5.25 ERA)
Rich Hood (0-1, 5.14 ERA) vs. Dave Butler (4-3, 4.14 ERA)
TBD vs. Shaun Yoder (4-3, 3.13 ERA)

Okay, we arrived in Atlanta with a completely toasted bullpen, but – bright sides – we had a bit of Rockburn and Steele, and a readily available Angel Casas, who pitched a quick inning in Wednesday’s rut. Most importantly, we had EASILY our best starting pitcher up to start this set. On the other hand, we had a gaping hole on Sunday, with no clear word on Colin Baldwin yet. If he couldn’t go, it would create another mild dilemma. We were short on pitching in AAA, and we wouldn’t be able to wring a spot start from the pen in all likelihood. There was an unappealing option on the 40-man roster: AA Kevin Denton, who had been shafted to the pen and had a 6+ ERA down there. If push came to shove, he would be called up to make a trash can start.

Game 1
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – 1B Quebell – RF J. Alexander – LF Pruitt – CF Seeley – 3B Merritt – C Bowen – P Brown
ATL: CF Arnette – SS Hibbard – LF M. Reyes – 3B C. Martinez – 2B Hilderbrand – RF McIntyre – 1B K. Rodgers – C C. Delgado – P Cox

23rd place on the career strikeout list was reached with whiffs filed for by Marty Reyes in the first and T.J. Hilderbrand in the second inning – at least a share of 23rd place. More importantly even: no runs scored in the first two innings, already a colossal improvement over the traumatic 3-night layover in Oklahoma. But the game had seven more innings to play, the Raccoons did NOTHING offensively, and while Brownie took sole possession of 23rd place with a strikeout to Pat Arnette in the third inning, that came with Carlos Delgado on second base. Devin Hibbard tripled, Marty Reyes singled, and the Knights were up 2-0. While the Raccoons tied the game right away in a 2-run fourth including an RBI triple by John Alexander with nobody out, the pain came right back when Hilderbrand tripled to start the bottom 4th and was scored by Will McIntyre’s single.

Down 3-2 in the top 5th, Craig Bowen hit a ball for a double to center when Arnette took a circuitous route to the ball that didn’t lead him anywhere in particular. Brownie singled to right, his second hit on the day, and Yoshi hit a double through Ken Rodgers to knot the score again with two men in scoring position and nobody out. After Brown scored on Quebell’s sac fly, which gave the Coons a 4-3 lead but was all they got in that promising situation, he walked Reyes in the bottom of the inning before his rapidly escalating pitch count was saved by Reyes being caught stealing by Craig Bowen, but Brown quite simply didn’t have it, and choked in the seventh when Carlos Delgado hit a leadoff double to represent the tying run. Bill Miller singled, and Pat Arnette struck out, meaning there were runners on the corners when Steele replaced Brown to pitch to the right-handed Devin Hibbard, who was promptly hit for with left-handed batter Gonzalo Munoz, who batted .160 over 50 AB. Steele had him at 0-2 before he allowed a long single to right to tie the score, and Miller made it all the way to third base, from which he scored on Reyes’ sac fly as the Knights took the lead.

Top 9th, Dave Shannon was pitching with the 5-4 lead. Sambrano hit for Merritt, drew a walk, and was caught stealing. Bowen was drilled by Shannon, and although the unhelpful Castro struck out, a single by Nomura and a walk by Palmer loaded the bases with two outs for Quebell, and it should be noted that if Sambrano hadn’t been caught stealing by a guy with an 11% CS rate, the game would be tied by now and ready for Quebell to hit into a double play. His favorite toy taken away, Quebell doubled to right instead, plating two runs before John Alexander flew out. Angel Casas inherited a lead after all, although in convoluted manner, and the bottom of the ninth started with Sambrano blowing a ball at third base that put the tying run on in Delgado. Well, Sandy had to play there after hitting for Merritt, and now everything was going down the chute yet again. Except that it didn’t. Miller struck out, and Arnette’s grounder to first was nicely played by Quebell to nip the lead run at second. Munoz then grounded out to Yoshi. 6-5 Blighters. Nomura 2-5, 2B, RBI; Quebell 3-4, 2B, 3 RBI; J. Alexander 2-5, 3B, RBI;

Still a fact: Nick Brown has yet to pitch a game and allow either one or two runs this year.

Also a fact: Colin Baldwin was diagnosed with a ruptured finger tendon and would vanish onto the DL for a significant amount of time. “Three months” were flung around on Saturday morning, but it could be even more than that.

Want another fact? Rich Hood awoke this Saturday with a head swollen to twice the size, the nose bright red and running, and no voice at all. Whatever poisonous peasant had sneezed the plague into him, he was completely flat and couldn’t reasonably be expected to pitch … or hold a spoon to eat some soup by himself.

Aaand now? Kevin Denton had thrown 40+ pitches on Wednesday and was not ready at all to make a start. Fortunately we were relatively close to St. Petersburg, where we called down to have a rocket shoved up Ian Cumins’ ass to fire him up to Atlanta in time for the start of the Saturday game. Cumins was not chosen for any merits. This 24-year old right-hander was pitching to a 4.79 ERA in AAA and was probably lucky that it was only this bad. It was merely his turn. The .500 Alley Cats had to see where to find another starter for themselves. This 2006 fifth-rounder, whom the Critters had picked up off the street in ’09, was entirely unremarkable.

Game 2
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – LF Sambrano – 1B Quebell – 3B Merritt – CF Castro – RF Ayers – C D. Alexander – P Cumins
ATL: 1B Arnette – CF Kelsey – LF M. Reyes – 3B C. Martinez – SS Hibbard – C Ledesma – 2B Hilderbrand – RF McIntyre – P D. Butler

Cumins’ first major league strikeout was to Marty Reyes in the first, but that came with two already on and Carlos Martinez soon collected those runners with a huge, huge, way too huge 3-run homer to left. Because things weren’t bad enough yet, Cumins needed over 30 pitches for the first inning, didn’t pick up the pace after that, and there was also some rain setting in and we had a 23-minute delay after three depressing innings were in. While Cumins wasn’t overwhelming or even challenging anybody, at least the long balls turned into outs to centerfield after a while and the Knights didn’t score again through five innings, while the Critters did … zero. Top 6th then, Quebell led off with a grounder to Hilderbrand, who threw it away. Merritt walked, bringing up the tying run in Castro, but Castro fabulously ruined the inning in first hitting into a fielder’s choice that got Merritt out at second base, then got himself picked off first. Ayers then flew out way too easily to right and the Coons had squid again. Ian Cumins was knocked out by Hilderbrand with a homer in the bottom of the inning, and we ended up chopping together the last few innings with Mullins, Law, and Sugano. The Raccoons, after the Castro drama, never threatened again. Or reached base. Dave Butler pitched a 5-hit shutout. 4-0 Knights. Merritt 1-2, 2 BB;

With that, Ian Cumins was sent back to AAA. And since Rich Hood continued to be sick like a dog on Sunday, here came Kevin Denton, who had been an interesting prospect a few years back, but injuries had hacked him into pieces, and since being drafted eighth overall by the Coons in the 2007 draft, he had made 20 or more starts only once in the minor leagues. He was now a trash can reliever for Ham Lake, and we would indeed give him the Sunday start, since he was on the 40-man roster anyway. Denton, 24, was a southpaw with a 94mph heater, a semi-decent splitter and a no-good changeup, and all that coupled with messy command and control. And he had never pitched above double-A!

Game 3
POR: 2B Nomura – CF Sambrano – 1B Quebell – RF J. Alexander – LF Pruitt – SS Palmer – 3B Merritt – C Bowen – P Denton
ATL: RF Arnette – SS Hibbard – LF M. Reyes – 3B C. Martinez – 1B J. Garcia – 2B Hilderbrand – CF Kelsey – C C. Delgado – P Yoder

The Raccoons took the lead on back-to-back doubles by J-Alex and Pruitt to start the top of the second inning, but was anybody surprised when Matt Pruitt was never moved off second base after that? Carlos Martinez tied the score right away with a solo homer in the bottom of the inning, and things weren’t stopping there. Denton walked Jorge Garcia, drilled Hilderbrand, but John Kelsey hit into a double play. With the pitcher in the on-deck circle, and Denton sucking badly, Delgado was walked intentionally, and then Shaun Yoder hit a looping 2-run double to leftfield anyway. Denton would be knocked out in the third inning, in which the Knights hit four extra-base hits, pairs of doubles and triples, to crush him under a 7-1 score. Conway was in the game for the third time this week, which was bad enough already, but the Coons also lost Sandy Sambrano to an injury in the field in the fourth inning. Conway pitched as crappily as ever, but somehow only allowed one run before being lifted for a pinch-hitter, Keith Ayers, to make the last out in the seventh inning. That was right after Craig Bowen had somehow fallen into a 3-run homer, and yet the score barely visibly budged at 8-4 Knights.

Yet this game was still not at the finish line; enter Kyle Mullins in the bottom of the seventh, a Martinez single to right, and then a loud shot by Jorge Garcia that put the Knights into double digits, and also considerably livened up Garcia’s .192 clip. Mullins walked the next two batters before being thrown into a bottomless pit, and Thrasher conceded a run on a groundout to Bill Miller. Despite being down by seven runs with six outs left, the Raccoons brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth inning. John Alexander had hit a 3-run homer in the eighth off Lawrence Rivers, and was batting again with two outs and two on as the tying run against Patrick Mercier … and struck out. 11-8 Knights. J. Alexander 2-5, HR, 2B, 3 RBI; Pruitt 2-4, 2B, RBI; Bowen 2-4, HR, 3 RBI;

The Knights had 13 hits, of which nine were for extra bases. This includes two triples and two homers. Or in other words: their average base hit was worth about 2.15 bases.

In other news

May 23 – Cyclones outfielder Will Bailey (.393, 8 HR, 47 RBI), who has been on the most terrific tear so far, has a torn meniscus and will miss at least a month.
May 24 – Boston’s LF/RF Jesus Flores (.308, 6 HR, 15 RBI) hits for the CYCLE in 9-5 Titans win over the Bayhawks, in which he also walked and drives in three runs. After Christian Greenman’s cycle in 2004, this is the second cycle for the Titans, and it is also the fourth consecutive cycle hit for in the month of May, as well as six of the last nine.
May 24 – As far as knee injuries go, BOS RF/LF Ricardo Garcia (.265, 4 HR, 25 RBI) has Bailey beat, however. The 29-year old Titan has been diagnosed with a ruptured medial collateral ligament and is out for the season.
May 25 – CHA SP Alfredo Collazo (4-5, 3.28 ERA) 2-hits the Canadiens in a 1-0 shutout.
May 26 – In a week of knee injuries, SFW OF Jose Morales (.330, 16 HR, 47 RBI) goes down to a strained posterior cruciate ligament and could be out for two months.

Complaints and stuff

I tried hard to come up with another week in which the Raccoons were laid this hard, and I got nothin’. Nope, nothin’. This week was very special.

Denton is back to Ham Lake after this one, and Josh Gibson will be called up to help out the pen in the Bayhawks series that comes up, but we will need another starter by Saturday. Our AAA team has someone become shockingly thin in pitching. Where has all the depth gone!?


13th – Leland Lewis – 2,664 (HOF)
14th – Manuel Movonda – 2,663
15th – Kiyohira Sasaki – 2,640
16th – Craig Hansen – 2,578 (HOF)
17th – Kelvin Yates – 2,571 (active)
t-18th – Dan George – 2,516
t-18th – Bill Smith – 2,516
20th – Angel Romero – 2,499
21st – Dennis Fried – 2,455
22nd – Juan Correa – 2,427 (HOF)
23rd – Nick Brown – 2,382
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Raccoons (29-22) vs. Bayhawks (24-26) – May 29-31, 2012

We had taken two of three from the Baybirds in San Francisco earlier this season, and right now a repeat of that would already be soothing the soul considerably, for if the Raccoons continued to play like last week they’d soon find themselves all the way down in fourth place. They were fourth in runs scored, but 10th in runs allowed, with a rotation even worse than ours at a 4.86 ERA (11th).

Projected matchups:
Shunyo Yano (2-4, 4.63 ERA) vs. Alex Maldonado (2-2, 5.35 ERA)
Nick Brown (6-1, 3.17 ERA) vs. Milt Beauchamp (2-4, 5.46 ERA)
Rich Hood (0-1, 5.14 ERA) vs. Felipe Ramirez (5-2, 3.79 ERA)

Their entire rotation is right-handed, and we miss their best guy, Reynaldo Rendon (5-4, 3.16 ERA).

Our own rotation was a mess even if you were disinclined to throw their 4.50 ERA (9th in CL) into the discussion right now. Six guys had started six games for the Coons last week, and three were not on the team anymore. Since Nick Brown was the only thing vaguely similar to a reliable guy right now, we would keep him on regular rest, which put him into the Wednesday middle game of the series. Shunyo Yano had pitched Wednesday last week – without success, but hey, who had? – and was assigned the opener on five days’ rest. Rich Hood was slotted in behind them although he hadn’t started a game at all, and then we’d have Santos on Friday on seven days’ rest. Like I said, it was a mess right now. We had no starter for Saturday so far, and the wildest possibility was to give Sergio Vega another start. Yeah that guy that can’t do anything and has been doing that for over a decade. And yet he keeps (creeps?) coming back!

The other option would be Bill Conway, but … ugh!

Meanwhile we learned of Sandy Sambrano’s injury by Tuesday morning, and he had a pretty bad hamstring strain and went to the DL. Walt Canning (.293, 3 HR, 32 RBI in AAA) was called up to replace him on the roster, since we were essentially missing an infielder with our superutility guy down. Canning was a career .258 batter with 2 HR in 190 AB in the Bigs. Team trainer Octávio Herrera reported that Sandy could miss two months, then ducked efficiently out of the Raccoons mug I hurled at him. While that one mug splintered against the wall, we still have enough for the first 15,000 games to come for Saturday’s home game against the Elks. Maud has more info on that; I only have a headache, and nothing to drink from anymore.

Game 1
SFB: CF Holt – 3B J. Rodriguez – RF Alston – LF J. Gomez – 1B Simmons – C J. Clark – SS Ingraham – 2B Brazeal – P Maldonado
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – 1B Quebell – RF J. Alexander – LF Seeley – CF Castro – 3B Merritt – C D. Alexander – P Yano

Yano certainly wasn’t overpowering anybody, and the Bayhawks took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on singles by Javier Rodriguez and Jose Gomez around a walk to “Monti” Alston. Zach Ingraham increased the lead to 2-0 with a 2-out RBI single in the fourth, at which point the Raccoons didn’t have a hit yet, but Palmer took care of that to start the bottom of the fourth, and scored on Jason Seeley’s double, cutting the 2-0 gap in half, and Dylan Alexander’s solo home run in the fifth made up the rest of it as both teams had five hits for two runs through five innings, although the Coons also had two men on in the bottom 5th until Quebell popped out foul to end the frame…

Why could Quebell not hit like Alex Maldonado!? The opposing pitcher’s turn came up with two outs in the sixth, and the bases were loaded. The Bayhawks didn’t hit for him, but why would they? Maldonado beat Seeley’s range for a double into the gap, two runs scored, the Birds went up 4-2, and Yano was heading for the showers. Law Rockburn struck out Jasper Holt to end the inning. Quebell in the bottom 7th got another chance at doing something good for the Coons, again with two outs and Nomura (who had singled home Jon Merritt to cut the score to 4-3) and Palmer on second and first, respectively. Facing righty reliever Javier Montés-Ortíz, Quebell lined a 1-2 pitch into right center to plate Yoshi from second and tie the score. J-Alex walked, but Seeley struck out to strand another three runners, and when Tomas Castro hit a leadoff double in the bottom 8th, nobody could be bothered to plate him. Both closers were on duty in the ninth inning: Angel Casas allowed a leadoff single to Sadaharu Ishikawa, but then retired Holt with a strikeout and had Javy Rodriguez hit into a double play. Valentim Innocentes faced the top of the order right away. Yoshi was retired on a soft fly to left, but Palmer hit a bloop single. Quebell worked a 3-1 count before taking a rip at a low pitch, which I normally didn’t like to see, especially not in this situation, but he actually hit that low pitch and drove it a ton to right, where Ron Alston ran after it to no avail, since this one was ticketed to Washington State altogether. 6-4 Raccoons! Nomura 2-5, RBI; Palmer 3-5; Quebell 2-5, HR, 3 RBI; Sugano 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K;

Game 2
SFB: CF Holt – C J. Clark – RF Alston – LF J. Gomez – 1B Simmons – SS Ingraham – 3B J. Rodriguez – 2B Brazeal – P Beauchamp
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – 1B Quebell – RF J. Alexander – LF Pruitt – CF Seeley – C D. Alexander – 3B Canning – P Brown

In his head, Nick Brown was a mess in that second inning. Jose Gomez led off with a single, but got forced by Andrew Simmons, who remained at first base. Brown then slipped from this dimension, threw a WILD pitch, then balked Simmons to third altogether, from where Javy Rodriguez scored him with a slow single through Walt Canning and the Bayhawks were up 1-0. Well, technically, Brownie had his stuff, and the Birds whiffed in droves (9 K in the first five innings, and on under 70 pitches), but he certainly hadn’t all his mind together, and on top of that got no support whatsoever. D-Alex was charged a passed ball to move Rodriguez into scoring position in the fifth, where he remained, but our backstop was also charged guilty twice, along with Seeley, for nixing promising offensive efforts: Pruitt in the bottom 2nd and J-Alex in the bottom 4th opened frames with doubles, and neither moved further than third base, and the Coons kept trailing 1-0.

Bottom 5th, leadoff walk drawn by Canning. We called a hit-and-run, Brownie missed, but Canning was safe at second, then moved to third when Brown grounded out to Micah Brazeal. Yoshi walked, giving us runners on the corners, and Palmer found himself in a full count when he grounded to short, and here Ingraham’s throw to Brazeal was just that little tad off what Brazeal expected; while Yoshi was out, they couldn’t turn two, the score did become tied after all, but didn’t remain as such for long. Quebell singled, and then John Alexander beat Alston for a triple into the corner to send the Brownshirts flying 3-1. Depressingly, Brownie responded to this finally arriving cavalry support with a leadoff walk to Jason Clark in the top 6th, then allowed a first-pitch single to Alston to put the tying runs on, but the Bayhawks clunkered out of it on two strikeouts and a bouncer back to the mound, yet that didn’t mean that **** wasn’t coming down again in the seventh inning, starting with Brown’s inexplicable and inexcusable 2-out walk to Milt Beauchamp. Holt singled, and then Jason Clark hit that kind of drive to deep left that made you close your eyes, turn away, and wait for a crowd reaction as to what was going to happen. The home crowd was dead silent, but then you could hear the ball clanking off the wall, the noise rose a bit, another bit, and then they burst into cheers and some isolated “Pru-itt! Pru-itt!” chants. Matt Pruitt had played Clark’s drive off the wall pretty well, and had unleashed a deadly rocket back in. Beauchamp scored, and the Birds sent Holt to tie the game, but Palmer’s relay killed him off at the bag and the Coons maintained a 3-2 lead!

Brown came back out for the top 8th, getting Alston to ground out and whiffed Gomez to fill up a dozen, but then walked another lefty in Simmons. That was it, 117 pitches on the clock and a right-hander up, but once Steele was on the mound, the Baybirds sent in left-hander Omarion Thompson to pinch-hit for Ingraham, but Steele struck him out anyway. Tomas Castro hit for Canning in the bottom 8th and launched a homer for an insurance run, but to everybody’s mental trauma Angel Casas blew the lead anyway in the top of the ninth. Issuing a walk to Brazeal was bad enough, but getting taken deep by Jasper Holt to tie the score should merit two weeks in the oubliette. He didn’t get out of the inning either, as Clark singled and Alston walked with two outs. While there was no happy end for Nick Brown’s W-L record, at least Thrasher got out of the inning, also pitched a scoreless 10th, and when his turn (in the #5 hole) was up to start the bottom 10th, Craig Bowen hit for him and ended the game in just two more pitches – back-to-back walkoff homers! 5-4 Critters. Quebell 2-5, 2B; J. Alexander 2-4, BB, 3B, 2B, 2 RBI; Bowen (PH) 1-1, HR, RBI; Castro (PH) 1-1, HR, RBI; Brown 7.2 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 12 K; Thrasher 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, W (3-2);

That was a pretty curiously bad outing for Angel Casas, who threw 29 pitches and achieved nothing except to make Brownie mad. It’s okay, Brownie, you will win the next one. Maybe.

Another note, Nick Brown’s ERA is over 3, which is unusual, but his 2.2 BB/9 and 10.4 K/9 numbers are career bests or pretty close to it. His main issue is shoddy defense right now, with a .310 BABIP against him, which would be tied for a career-worst for a full season for him.

Game 3
SFB: CF Holt – C J. Clark – RF Alston – LF J. Gomez – 1B Simmons – SS Ingraham – 3B J. Rodriguez – 2B Brazeal – P F. Ramirez
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – 1B Quebell – RF J. Alexander – LF Pruitt – 3B Merritt – CF Castro – C Bowen – P Hood

After not walking anybody in his first career start and coming down with the plague in between, Rich Hood opened his second career start with two walks to the first two batters he saw, then coughed up two hits to concede three runs right away. Not all was lost yet, since the Raccoons would throw up their own 3-spot to tie the game in the third inning, although the Bayhawks were kindly supporting them. Bowen led off the inning with a single, and was Rodriguez’ target when Hood bunted to third base. Bowen beat the throw to second, the fielder’s choice retired nobody, and the inning continued long enough for the Raccoons to score two runs on Michael Palmer’s double to right center, and the tying run when John Alexander singled with two down.

Ramirez had barely caught his breath when he was back to pitching again in the bottom 4th, and didn’t see the other end of the frame. The Coons wobbled him with two outs, starting with singles by Bowen to right, and by Hood up the middle. Yoshi found the gap in left center for a go-ahead 2-run double, then scored on Palmer’s roller into center, 6-3. Replacement Ron Carter got out of the inning when Simmons made a great grab on Quebell’s fast bounce to right, and whiffed Hood with the bases loaded to end the fifth inning, but Quebell got him for an RBI double in the bottom 6th after a leadoff walk to Yoshi. By then it was also raining on and off. Hood made it through seven on just one more hit after the first inning shackling he received, but was then knocked out by Ishikawa’s pinch-hit double without logging an out in the eighth inning. Kyle Mullins threw two pitches to Jasper Holt before a rain delay was called, which lasted almost for an hour. After that, Mullins surrendered the runner left on by Hood on two fly outs, and with Angel unavailable I tried my luck with Sugano for a 4-out save once Alston came up, and a strikeout to our former slugger certainly got Sugano on a good track, but the top 9th was opened with singles by Gomez and Simmons, bringing up the tying run. Ingraham was retired on a soft line to Nomura, and Rodriguez struck out. Brazeal had little to no power, and so the Coons stuck with Sugano, who whiffed the second baseman to get the sweep into the books! 7-4 Furballs! Nomura 3-4, BB, 2B, 2 RBI; Palmer 2-5, 2B, 3 RBI; Bowen 2-3, BB; Sugano 1.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K, SV (1);

That’s obviously Sugano’s first career save in the ABL, and it established a virtual tie with the Elks for first place in the division just as said stinkers were coming into town. Brace yourselves, a vile smell is coming!

Raccoons (32-22) vs. Canadiens (31-21) – June 1-3, 2012

The Elks were seventh in runs scored, but second in runs allowed with the best rotation in the league. Their starters’ ERA was 2.94, something the Raccoons remembered vaguely but couldn’t quite make a claim to right now… We had beaten them for four out of six so far in 2012.

Projected matchups:
Hector Santos (4-3, 4.61 ERA) vs. Juichi Fujita (5-3, 4.04 ERA)
Marco Gomez (0-0) vs. Rod Taylor (7-2, 2.25 ERA)
Shunyo Yano (2-4, 4.79 ERA) vs. Brad Osborne (4-3, 3.06 ERA)

Two things. Looks like they will skip Bob King (3-4, 3.14 ERA), and we miss their only southpaw Johnny Krom (3-2, 2.31 ERA) as well. Which might not be a bad thing in general.

Third thing: Marco Gomez will make his major league debut on Saturday. He was our 2006 fourth rounder and has been in St. Pete since 2009 without ever achieving anything. He is right-handed, throws about 92, but while he has some natural sink to his fastball, his breaking stuff is all mediocre and hangs too often, resulting in grisly scores. Also an issue, like he doesn’t have enough of those: walks. For crying out loud, his AAA ERA is 4.97 over more than 500 innings…! Gomez might make two starts before we can get another off day and get some flexibility in the rotation.

Game 1
VAN: CF Holland – RF E. Garcia – 1B Gilbert – LF Cameron – 3B Suzuki – C Baca – SS Rice – 2B M. Austin – P Fujita
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – 1B Quebell – RF J. Alexander – LF Pruitt – 3B Merritt – CF Castro – C Bowen – P Santos

Both teams had only a single the first time through the order, but soon enough the Elks rallied against Hector Santos and took a 2-0 lead on a mammoth homer by Alonso Baca in the fourth inning. Castro hit a 1-out single in the bottom 5th, stole second base, but Bowen grounded out, which would have left Castro on third base if Hector Santos’ roller hadn’t eluded Ray Gilbert for reasons unknown and had made it into shallow right for an RBI single. Yoshi hit another one like that past Gary Rice, but Palmer flew out to left to end the inning. Top 6th, Don Cameron reached base with a single but was caught stealing by Bowen, who had now killed off seven of 15 runners this year. The Raccoons quickly had something going in the bottom of the sixth inning then. Quebell drew a leadoff walk, and John Alexander singled to right. Pruitt grounded out, moving the tying and go-ahead runs into scoring position for Jon Merritt, who made a pathetic rolling out on the first pitch and didn’t get the runners in, and Castro grounded out to Gilbert after that.

Santos was gone after seven good, but unsuccessful innings, but the Elks ran out Fujita for the bottom 8th. And why wouldn’t they? He was on 92 pitches, and despite only whiffing three in seven innings he looked like he was in good shape. Then Palmer assaulted him for a game-tying leadoff jack in the eighth. Oh well, we’ll take that. It did come surprising, though. The Coons were in business soon enough: Quebell reached on Mark Austin’s bobbling error, and J-Alex singled to right, but eventually left the bases loaded when Bowen struck out, and without taking the lead. Law Rockburn pitched the top 9th, with Gilbert hitting a leadoff single. He moved to third on two groundouts, which brought up Baca again: .395, 6 HR, 21 RBI. Nope! Four fingers outside and let’s go to Gary Rice (.210, 6 HR, 21 RBI), whom Law whiffed to escape the jam, and the Coons did little enough to send the game to extras.

Once there, Josh Gibson was broken out just before his removal from the roster to make room for Marco Gomez. He got through the 10th despite a leadoff single and hit batter, then walked Cameron at the start of the top 11th and THEN hit Suzuki! Alright, get that scum off the mound! Sugano came out, struck out Baca and Rice and got a grounder to short from PH Ramiro Cavazos to escape another jam. Then the Coons had their first two men on in the bottom of the inning. Castro had singled to left, and Bowen got plunked by Pedro Alvarado. Gutierrez was the last bat off the bench, hitting for Sugano, grounded to the pitcher, who got Bowen forced at second. But that didn’t matter! Castro was at third with one out, and Yoshi was at the plate, hit a 1-0 pitch up the middle, Jaylin Lawrence didn’t get to it, and the Coons had their third walkoff in the week! 3-2 Blighters! Nomura 3-5, BB, 2B, RBI; Palmer 2-5, HR, RBI; J. Alexander 3-5; Castro 2-4, BB; Santos 7.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K and 1-2, RBI;

Game 2
VAN: CF Holland – RF E. Garcia – 1B Gilbert – LF Cameron – 3B Suzuki – C Baca – SS Rice – 2B M. Austin – P R. Taylor
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – 1B Quebell – RF J. Alexander – LF Pruitt – CF Seeley – 3B Merritt – C D. Alexander – P M. Gomez

How often will a pitcher knock two base hits in the same inning? While the statisticians are still on that one, add Rod Taylor to the list prematurely. After home runs by Quebell and Baca had made this a 1-1 game early, Gomez became the next Raccoons fill-in starter to be torn to shreds inconveniently early. Taylor opened the top of the third inning with a single, the line kept moving, moving, moving, and after an intentional walk to Mark Austin that filled the bags with two outs, Taylor lined another hopeless Gomez offering into rightfield for a 2-run single, which ran the score to 7-1 and Gomez from the game. Bill Conway replaced him and had Seeley hustle after a Ross Holland drive to center, but eventually Gomez’ line closed after ten hits and seven runs allowed in 2 2/3 innings. Despite facing Taylor, who led the league in strikeouts (102 coming in), the Raccoons weren’t entirely dead yet, since Adrian Quebell managed to hit another homer his second time up. This one came with Yoshi on base and cut the gap to 7-3 in the third.

But, well, no, it was a lost game and I was fearing for people to throw their mugs at the players. Bill Conway actively petitioned for removal to St. Petersburg (or Chumpsville, NE), bunting into a double play in the bottom 4th, followed by walking two and plating a runner with a wild pitch in the top 5th. That was even AFTER he had already conceded an unearned run blamed on a throwing error by Dylan Alexander. Or was it really lost? Rod Taylor developed a curious case of The Walks in the middle innings, and loaded the bases on walks to Nomura and J-Alex around a Palmer single and a too-eager strikeout of Quebell in the bottom 5th. Pruitt came up and was also soon in a favorable count before peppering a 2-1 pitch to deep right, deep, deep – GRAAAAAAAND SLAAAAAAAMMM!!!!

This one knocked out Taylor, who thus did not manage to qualify for a win despite getting nine runs of support. The tying runs were on base in the bottom 6th, two outs and Quebell facing righty Peter Edwards, who lost the Coons’ first baseman to a walk, but Alexander flew out to left after that. And despite Conway being hit for in the inning, the pitching remained a mess. Mullins drilled Baca in the top 7th before Gary Rice legged out an infield single, but fell down immediately behind the bag, holding his leg and wincing in agony. Jaylin Lawrence replaced him in the game, while Mullins was shafted for Ron Thrasher, who reduced the Elks to two strikeouts on the way out of the mess. Merritt homered off John Bennett to get the Coons within a run, but they had to face Pedro Alvarado in the bottom of the ninth, with Quebell, Gutierrez (due to some double-switching), and Pruitt up in the inning. The Raccoons were reduced to frustration in ten pitches. 9-8 Canadiens. Nomura 1-2, 3 BB; Quebell 2-4, BB, 2 HR, 3 RBI; Pruitt 2-5, HR, 4 RBI; Thrasher 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K;

We don’t get any love with our replacement level pitching, huh??

Waiver claim

The pitching-desperate Raccoons added another lab rat on Sunday, claiming SP Scott Spears off waivers by the Wolves. Spears was employed as a swingman by Salem, pitching 32.1 innings with five starts and three relief appearances, and put up a 1-3 record with a 3.34 ERA. He walked 15 against 14 strikeouts. Spears, a 32-year old right-hander, was of course a long-time part of the Elks’ rotation, and NEVER managed to pitch to an ERA better than the 4.19 mark in his rookie campaign.

Like I said, we’re desperate.

Spears started on Wednesday, meaning that Monday would be a regular rest start for him, but we’re not moving Brownie for waiver claim scum and he will instead pitch Tuesday ahead of Rich Hood.

Well, at least he only makes $232k this year. Minor note: he has 993 K, so unless he turns out to be yet another one-nightmare-wonder like the last three guys we tried, he should make it to 1,000 as a Coon. Not that this matters in ANY way. Although his arrival means that Nick Brown no longer accounts for more than 50% of the assembled career strikeouts on the roster.

Raccoons (32-22) vs. Canadiens (31-21) – June 1-3, 2012

Game 3
VAN: CF Holland – RF E. Garcia – 1B Gilbert – LF Cameron – 3B Suzuki – C Baca – SS Lawrence – 2B M. Austin – P Osborne
POR: 2B Nomura – 3B Merritt – 1B Quebell – RF J. Alexander – LF Pruitt – CF Castro – SS Canning – C D. Alexander – P Yano

Coon City went up 1-0 on Pruitt’s single in the bottom 1st after the team had loaded the bases on all possible means before that, including a Yoshi single, a Merritt walk, and poor J-Alex getting dished in the elbow. The Coons would throw up four in total, with Castro wringing a bases-loaded walk from Osborne, and Dylan Alexander hitting a 2-out, 2-run double, on which Castro was thrown out at home. The Coons had the bases loaded again with one out in the third inning after another single by Pruitt, another walk by Castro, and this time it was Canning who got smacked, but Osborne escaped with strikeouts to the #8 and #9 batters, then came pretty close to tying the game in the top 4th. The Elks had started the inning by battering three straight singles off Yano, who was pretty much hopeless out there, but a John Alexander throwing error certainly didn’t help his efforts. The Elks had plated three runs by the time Osborne hit a sharp bouncer to Merritt, who just barely got his paw on it to keep this one from going into the corner and scoring Mark Austin from second base.

Like all good things, this relief was temporary, and Yano was knocked out in the fifth. Garcia and Gilbert hit two more singles to get started, and he walked Mitsuhide Suzuki with one out. Manobu Sugano came in and threw one pitch to dissolve the situation, a perfect double play grounder by Alonso Baca to Yoshi, and the Coons maintained a 4-3 lead. Sugano logged another five fairly efficient outs on 20 pitches total, and Castro hit a solo homer to give at least one insurance run, and still, as soon as Sugano was gone, Law Rockburn was suddenly drowning in runners in the top 7th. Gilbert singled, Cameron walked, and then Canning started a double play with a nifty swipe on a sharp grounder by Suzuki to escape yet another mess.

Bottom 7th, Edwards pitching. Pruitt singled, Castro doubled, Canning walked. Nobody out, bases loaded. Come on now! Bowl them over! D-Alex beat a sliding Enrique Garcia for a 2-run double on a 3-1 pitch, before Seeley walked to reload the sacks, and another walk was issued to Nomura, shoving home a run. That was finally enough for Edwards, with another righty in Dave Weber replacing him. Weber struck out Merritt, Bowen – hitting for Law after an earlier double switch – lined out to Suzuki at third, and John Alexander hit a drive to right center that – is it? Will it? It would! GRAAAAAAAAAND SLAAAAAAAAMMMMM!!!!

That 7-run outburst gave the Critters a 12-3 lead, but they still had to pitch for six outs, so… And it was Mullins again at it in the eighth, although a walk to Mark Austin didn’t turn around to bite him. He remained in the blowout for the ninth, allowing singles to Holland and Garcia to get going before the defense bailed him out completely. 12-3 Raccoons! J. Alexander 1-4, HR, 4 RBI; Pruitt 4-5, RBI; Castro 2-3, 2 BB, HR, 2B, 2 RBI; D. Alexander 3-5, 2 2B, 4 RBI; Sugano 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K, W (3-0); Mullins 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K;

Well, the bats are working now, it seems.

In other news

May 28 – Indy’s SP Curtis Tobitt (5-3, 3.01 ERA) erases the league-stomping Thunder with ease in a 2-hit shutout, whiffing ten, as the Indians win 4-0. One of the hits is collected by the Thunder’s Emilio Farias (.341, 0 HR, 28 RBI), who runs a hitting streak to 20 games.
May 30 – At 40 years old, LVA CL Ryosei Kato (1-2, 1.80 ERA, 11 SV) still has it, and locks up his 400th career save by preserving a 3-1 win over the Titans. Kato, the 2005 Reliever of the Year, has appeared in 1,120 career games since debuting with the 1994 Bayhawks, and whiffed 1,322. He led the league in saves twice with the 2000 Bayhawks and the 2004 Buffaloes. His career ERA is 2.75.
June 1 – The Indians place 2B Jong-beom Kym (.278, 10 HR, 35 RBI) on the DL with a torn meniscus. He might not be back this month.
June 2 – Another CYCLE is hit for in the ABL! NYC LF Martin Ortíz (.293, 10 HR, 45 RBI) connects for four hits including all the required components in the Crusaders’ 6-5 loss to the Indians, driving in two. The third cycle in less than three weeks and the 49th overall, this one is the second for the Crusaders franchise after Stanton Martin’s from 2006. While only eight of the 49 ABL cycles have been hit by players on the losing team, two of the last three have been hit by defeated contestants (also: SFW Gil Gross on May 16).
June 2 – BOS 2B/3B Jesus Ramirez (.236, 6 HR, 26 RBI) should miss a week or so with a sprained elbow.
June 2 – DAL SP Victor Scott (5-3, 4.88 ERA) could be out for a full year with a torn flexor tendon in his elbow.
June 3 – The hitting streak of OCT INF Emilio Farias (.335, 0 HR, 31 RBI) ends after 24 games as he is held cold in four at-bats by the Aces, who take the series finale from the Thunder, 2-1.

Complaints and stuff

After Nick Brown’s game on Wednesday, his ERA was a full run better than that of any other starter, and 1 1/2 runs better than that of any other starter not broken and on the DL. Whoopsie. Looks like my quest for the “silently efficient” type of pitcher yielded a triple-whammy this year. Add to that Hood and Santos, who are both messes.

The pitching is … traumatic. Don’t know whether it will get better with Spears, either… Mullins and Conway are also pretty darn close to getting shafted.

The bimonthly scouting report was a bit unpleasant. Nick Brown was graded down in terms of movement (still a 13 though and he hasn’t allowed too many homers recently), and Angel Casas was also slashed of a point of movement (to 14). Juan Calderón also diminished Michael Palmer to two stars, but I think he’s doing good enough right now…

However, part of the prospect haul from last July was rated up, with Gary Dupes, who had recently been promoted to AAA, gaining a blip of stuff and control (10/10/9 current), and Ricardo Carmona’s contact was improved to 17. Too bad he’ll be on the DL still for most of the month.

Odd trivia: Who was the only pitcher in the ABL to allow a run while throwing a no-hitter? Portland’s Manuel Movonda.

Today is the first day of 11 straight off work for me. Updates might be frequent from now on.
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Resident Mets Cynic

Last edited by Westheim; 05-26-2016 at 06:28 AM.
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