The designated time and calendar coordinates having arrived, that is to say now just a month away from Pitchers and Catchers reporting to Spring Training Camps in Arizona and Florida, it is time also for me to once again make my annual pledge to be both a better Baseball Blogger and a better human being.
It’s most likely that I will only be able to do one of the two, and most people would concentrate on being a better person. But I am not “most people.”
Also we are anticipating a few major life events to happen to our family in 2016. First, it looks like – assuming that the insurance company finally agrees – that I will be having knee replacement surgery in late Winter or the early part of the Spring.
Then, we are planning to relocate to Tacoma, my wife’s hometown sometime between July and September, assuming my recovery goes well.
Lastly this will mean job changes for my wife and probably for me, unless the VA gets off it’s duff and approves my disability claim.
So how will all of this effect this blog?
Well, first off, leaving the Central Valley will make it less able to closely follow the Stockton Ports, although with the internet and such, it seems like that would be easy. The problem is that love fades with distance unless there is a hard connection like most people have with a MLB Team. Over time and distance, I have lost interest in my hometown Ogden Raptors (even as a Dodgers Affiliate) and my all time favorite AAA Team, The Tacoma Rainier’s.
But now that we will be back in Tacoma, albeit near the end of the season, they will again assume front burner status. Moreover, while the Dodgers, thanks to MLB.com and Extra Innings, will remain an integral part of my day, the return to the PACNORWEST means that I will once again, probably as passionately as I did in the 1980’s and 90’s follow the Mariners. Especially with no reasonable chance of them ever meeting in the World Series. The Facebook Page will continue to be the place for quick stuff like news and box scores. Here I will talk about what I saw and felt and liked and even disliked about a particular game.
The bigger thing though is that every year at this time I sit down and plan to write about Baseball. From my own perspective as a fan, not a Stat Wonk or or broadcaster or a player. Just a casual fan who loves the game very much.
And maybe that will help me to be a better person, too?
You can feel it in the air… Spring training is almost here!
The Big Clubs will, of course, get most of the attention and the press, but I follow the Ports, and here’s what’s shaking in the Athletics System right now for the Stockton team. The ubiquitous lists of “GIVEN Teams top Prospects” are making the rounds, and when it comes to Oakland, there’s a great deal of agreement as to who is ON the list, with argument over WHERE on the list they belong.
In any case, some of last seasons Ports are moving up the ladder, lead by Matt Olson, the hard hitting 1st Baseman and 3rd Baseman Renato Nunez. Outfielder Chad Pinder are all expected to start the year in Midland. Pitcher Raul Alcantara, who flashed moments of brilliance in 2013 before being sidelined, turned out to need Tommy John surgery. he is expected to start in the Rookie leagues, to see if he can completely recover. If he does, it’s likely we could see him at Banner Island later in the season.
Expected in Stockton this season are 3rd Baseman Matt Chapman, a power hitting 1st Rounder from 2014, who made it up to Beloit last season. Franklin Baretto is a 19 year old Shortstop, in the mold of Addison Russell, who the A’s expect to start in Stockton in the hopes that the Venezuelan native has what it takes to be the Short Stop of the future as quickly as possible.
For me though, the most intriguing possibility for Stockton is Pitcher Dillon Overton. He is expected to start he season in Beloit , but the hopes are very high on the University of Oklahoma (BOOMER SOONER!) product. He did have Tommy John surgery last year, but a left hander who can get it going should move up quickly. And while the California League isn’t exactly the best place to see the best pitchers have to offer, it is a big step in learning to face big league hitting. Assuming that at some point in the season we see him here in Stockton, I’ll have to wear my OU hat for at least the games he pitches!
Spring is almost here… hurrah!
The Stockton Ports have announced their 2015 On Field Staff, including for the second season in a row, a new Manger. This year, longtime A’s Minor League Manager, Coach and Scout Rick Magnate will take the helm of the good ship Stockton. He has managed in the Minors since 1997 with a break from 1998 to 2006 when he became the Manger in Vancouver.
Minor League Managers are something of a mystery to fans. Most of the time, it seems like they are former minor league players with an occasional cup of coffee in the Majors. They appear as grizzled and Crash Davis-like philosophers or Morris Buttermaker drunks with a penchant for winning. They aren’t.
What they are is teachers, parents, leaders, drill sergeants and even baseball philosopher and so much more rolled into somebody who loves the game so much that they want to do everything they can to make certain that the next big thing to hit the Majors is ready and capable to carrying the torch. Sometimes they succeed, sometimes they don’t. But it’s clear that they will have a major impact on the young players and even have a say in whether or not the players move up. Read the rest of this entry