April 2008

The Bees’ Knees

What’s next, Roy Hobbs driving a two-strike pitch into the lights?

The Bees were losing 8-7 to Fresno Saturday as they headed into the bottom of the 9th. Their eleven-game winning streak was on the line, and faced the possibility of losing their second game in 21 contests.

Terry Evans led off with a walk. After pinch-hitter Kendry Morales popped up, Sean Rodriguez hit a grounder to short that forced Evans but Sean beat the throw. Reggie Willits came to the plate. Rodriguez stole second, but Willits was down two strikes.

Broadcaster Steve Klauke said the outfield was playing shallow, assuming Willits’ pop-gun bat was more likely to hit a single than a deep fly ball, and they could keep Rodriguez from scoring.

But this is Salt Lake City, at an elevation of 4,500 feet. I’ve seen pop flies carry for home runs.

Reggie hit a fly ball to center. Klauke’s voice over the webcast sounded like it was routine, but the ball kept carrying. It landed behind the center field, and Rodriguez raced for home.

Game tied, 8-8.

In the bottom of the 10th, Matt Brown walked with one out. After Brandon Wood popped out, Dee Brown walked to move up Brownie to second base. Terry Evans drove a line drive to right, Brown scored, Bees win 9-8.

And now they’re 20-1.

The keeping of minor league statistical records is somewhat less reliable than major league stats, so no one really knows if this is the best start ever by a minor league team, but it’s certainly one of the best. In the ten years I’ve been covering the Angels’ minor leagues, I can’t recall any full-season team with this good a run. Some of Tom Kotchman’s teams in Boise, Provo and Orem may have had hot mid-season runs, but I doubt any went 20-1.

The Bees’ only loss was their home opener, 11-9 to Portland. They won their first eight games on the road, and since that lone loss have now won twelve straight.

Looking at Minor League Baseball’s statistics portal, here’s where individual Bees stand relative to the rest of the minor leagues.

  • Matt Brown is 8th in the minors in AVG at .419.
  • Brandon Wood is tied for #2 in the minors in HR at eight (one behind the leader).
  • Brown is #1 in runs scored (24), and Brad Coon is #2 (22).
  • Brown is #1 in total bases (73).
  • Brown is #3 in hits (39).
  • Brown is tied for #6 in doubles (10).
  • Brown is #1 in extra-base hits (19).
  • Brown is #4 in slugging percentage (.785) and Sean Rodriguez is #15 (.696).
  • Jose Arredondo is tied for #2 in saves (7).
  • Freddy Sandoval is #6 in AVG for switch-hitters (.385).

Clearly it’s been the Matt Brown show.

Brownie has flown under the radar as a prospect. He didn’t make the Baseball America Top 30 Angels prospects for 2008. In fact, he’s never made the Top 30 list. A 10th round pick in the June 2001 draft, his career minor league numbers are decent enough — AVG/OBP/SLG of .265/.347/.449 — but never seemed to grab the spotlight.

I was aware of Matt, of course, and every November when I wrote the annual FutureAngels.com Top 10 Prospects report he was in the back of my mind. But my two concerns were his high strikeout rate, and a tendency to be hot-headed at times on the field. He’s struck out over 100 times in his last four seasons, while drawing less than 50 walks each year. But he also hit 73 homers during that period, which for his age and level were impressive enough to deserve more attention than he’s been given.

Matt received a brief callup to Anaheim in 2007, and was briefly with the Angels earlier this month. He turns 26 in August, so he’s right about where he should be in terms of career development. With less talented organizations, he’d be in the majors now.

Credit should also be given to whomever found Shane Loux and Giancarlo Alvarado.

Loux was a Detroit Tigers’ 2nd round pick in the June 1997 draft. He reached the majors with Detroit for parts of the 2002 and 2003 seasons, but was released after the 2004 season. Loux underwent Tommy John surgery and missed all of 2005, then signed with the Kansas City Royals and pitched for them as a reliever at Triple-A Omaha in 2006. And was released.

Marty Renzhofer of the Salt Lake Tribune tells the rest of the tale. Shane was a high school coach in 2007, but was signed by the Angels in November after a Tempe workout at the end of fall instructional league. Angels farm director Abe Flores told me that scout John Gracio deserves the credit for bringing in Loux for a look-see.

Loux may have been no more than a blip on the radar. Alvarado wasn’t even on the radar.

Giancarlo was originally signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1995 at age 17 out of Puerto Rico. He never played higher than Double-A, and bounced around in independent ball for a couple years. Nevertheless, his career minor league numbers aren’t bad — 3.81 ERA, 755:379 SO:BB ratio in 778.0 IP, a 1.42 WHIP.

Alvarado spent 2007 in the Mexican League with Saltillo, where he was 7-1 with a 3.09 ERA. In 75.2 IP, he had a 70:24 SO:BB ratio and allowed only two homers.

I asked farm director Abe Flores how the Angels found him. He said that former Angel Eduardo Perez saw Alvarado during winter workouts in Puerto Rico and recommended him to Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher. Alvarado isn’t even in the Angels’ media guide, which shows you how late he was signed.

If John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar hadn’t been hurt, maybe Loux and Alvarado don’t even have a job. Either Joe Saunders or Ervin Santana would have been in Triple-A, and Dustin Moseley would be in the bullpen forcing another arm back to Salt Lake.

The Angels are currently 15-10, tied with Oakland for the best record in the A.L. (a score that will be settled with their upcoming four-game series in Anaheim starting Monday). With the Triple-A team playing so well, the parent club seems set for the foreseeable future.

Thirty Minutes in Bakersfield

I’m in a Bakersfield motel killing time until I have to go to a day-job assignment, so here are some random thoughts …

Casey Kotchman and Jeff Mathis homered in the Angels’ 7-6 loss last night at Boston. Both have been frequent targets of self-proclaimed experts on Angels fan boards who have claimed Kotchman and Mathis are “busts.” Kotchman, according to these experts, is “an injury prone slow-running singles hitter who will never amount to anything.” Mathis, they say, is “a mediocre catcher who will never hit.”

Casey’s AVG/OBP/SLG for 2008 are .315/.359/.575.  Among AL first basemen with at least 25 AB, he’s tied for #2 in HR, #2 in AVG, #7 in OBP, and #1 in SLG.

Jeff’s AVG/OBP/SLG for 2008 are .379/.387/.759.  Among AL catchers with at least 25 AB this year, he’s #1 in AVG, #2 in OBP and #1 in SLG.

So where are those experts now?

Probably gone back to rag on Garret Anderson.

Hank Conger arrives this Saturday at Rancho Cucamonga, but it’s not what you think.  The Quakes are holding a Korean-American Night.  Hank will be there to sign autographs.  Of course, when they first thought up this promotion, they assumed Hank would be on the active roster.  Hopefully that won’t be too much longer.

John Lackey will make three rehab starts with the Quakes, starting tomorrow night at home.  His second start will be April 29 at Lancaster, and the third start is Sunday May 4 at Rancho.

The Lancaster road starts pays back a little cosmic karma.  In July 2003, Randy Johnson made a rehab start for the Diamondbacks with Lancaster at Rancho.

If you’re wondering why Lack won’t make at least one rehab start at Triple-A Salt Lake, the answer is they’ll be on the road back east.  That second start would be at Memphis, and the third start would be at Nashville.  So the Angels will keep him close to him and monitor his progress.

Some organizations prefer to have a rehabbing pitcher work his way up the organization ladder — one start at Class-A, one start at Double-A, one start at Triple-A, etc.  I guess they believe the increasingly experienced competition is a measurement of the pitcher’s rehab progress.  But an experienced pitcher like Lackey already knows what he needs to do.  He just needs innings.  He’s not going out there to blow someone away, so even if he mows down a Double-A lineup or Triple-A lineup it won’t mean much if he hasn’t worked his way back to major league caliber.  That comes from repetition.  The baseball people can see whether his stuff is sharp or not, regardless of who’s at the plate.

Someone finally found a way to stop the 17-1 Salt Lake Bees last night.  They were rained out at Portland.

Speaking of Salt Lake … In an earlier blog, I observed that the local papers seem to give the Bees a low priority. I observed that the Deseret News didn’t even have the Bees on their sports menu. Well, someone must have read what I wrote because now the Bees are on the far right. But if you look down the list of headlines on today’s sports page, the Bees are below stories about the NBA Utah Jazz, the University of Utah gymanstics team, high school soccer, BYU volleyball, high school baseball, high school basketball, high school softball, wrestling, golf, and the Real Salt Lake pro soccer team. Sure, the Bees got rained out last night, but it’s pretty much this way every day.

So as I wrote earlier, why alienate one of the few people who gives them free publicity?

Off to my day-job assignment, and then back home tonight to Orange County.

 

The Real Field of Dreams

Field of Dreams is generally considered not only as an iconic baseball film, but an iconic Iowa film.

But a new movie may knock Field of Dreams off that second pedestal.

The Final Season is based on the true story of the Norway, Iowa high school baseball team that won the state baseball title in the final year of the school’s existence. The film was shot entirely in Iowa, including the actual school and field in Norway.

Co-starring as a location in the film is Veterans Memorial Stadium, the Cedar Rapids Kernels’ home ballpark. The events of the film occur in 1990-91, when the “Old Vet” still existed. The championship games are played at the “New Vet,” which opened in 2002. Scenes are shot in the Vet’s dugout and clubhouse.

I can’t speak for the people who actually live in Iowa, but as an occasional visitor who’s driven through those small rural Iowa towns, it was extremely authentic for me.

Click Here to visit the movie web site.

Click Here to visit the Norway Baseball web site.

I found the movie with a companion documentary DVD for $20 at Sam’s Club.

That ’70s Show

If you’re a regular reader of FutureAngels.com, you know I’ve been writing about the early history of the Angels’ minor leagues, in particular the inaugural 1961 season.

Last winter, one of the stalwarts of the Angels’ 1970s minor leagues contacted me. Darrell Darrow was drafted out of Long Beach City College in 1970. Except for 1977-78, he was a second baseman in the Angels system for the entire decade, returning for one final season in 1979.

Darrell contacted me to find out if what someone told him was true, that he holds the record for most career triples in the Angels minor leagues. He hit 48 triples in his Angels career. Although I haven’t researched the entire history of Angels minor league baseball, my anecdotal research seemed to indicate he does hold the record.

Then I found out that Darrell has another link to Angels history.

Those of us growing up with Angels baseball in the 1960s remember ads for Home Run Park, a batting cage on Beach Boulevard in Anaheim not far from Knott’s Berry Farm. It was marketed as Jim Fregosi’s operation, but the truth was the real owner was friends with Fregosi and licensed the name. Fregosi was rarely there, but the ads in the Angels scorebooks and on the radio led us to believe that if we went by we would certainly see Jim teaching youngsters to play ball.

Darrell now runs the batting cages for the current owner, and teaches hitting there. Former Angels pitcher Clyde Wright has a bullpen in the back where he teaches pitching.

Yesterday I went to Home Run Park to record an interview with Darrell. We also videotaped a walking tour of this historic complex. As Darrell notes, Home Run Park has been used over the years by many of Orange County’s most prominent professional ballplayers.

If you have a broadband Internet connection (cable modem or DSL), Click Here to watch the video interview which runs about an hour. Click Here to take the Home Run Park tour.

If you don’t have broadband, Click Here to listen to an audio-only version of the interview. You need Windows Media Player for all the links.

Click Here to visit the Home Run Park web site.

OC Metro on Tony Reagins

OC Metro, an Orange County business magazine, has a cover story on Tony Reagins. Click Here to read the article. The link is only good until the next edition, as it’s a generic link for the current issue’s cover story.

Buried in the article is a reference to FutureAngels.com.

Some skeptics weren’t so confident Reagins had the right stuff. He never played pro baseball like Angels Manager Mike Scioscia, who was thought to be a contender for the top spot, let alone college or high school. “Without a strong background,” a FutureAngels.com blogger speculated the day after his appointment, “Reagins may feel he needs to make a splash with some sort of spectacular move that gets him headlines for a few days, but in the long run, may harm the organization’s long-term interests.”

Click Here to read the original referenced article published on October 16, 2007.

Reagins fortunately has continued to follow the model established by his predecessor. Rumors to the contrary, Tony has yet to trade away top prospects for a quick fix. Whether he’s tried, just as whether Bill Stoneman ever tried, we’ll never know since neither ever says anything public about rumors. I’m just glad that Reagins has kept young talent like Casey Kotchman, Jeff Mathis, Erick Aybar, Howie Kendrick, Ervin Santana, Joe Saunders and more who are now contributing on the major league level. Brandon Wood and Nick Adenhart are right behind them, along with Matt Brown, Sean Rodriguez, Bobby Wilson, Terry Evans and a bunch of other Salt Lake Bees.

Down the line are Jordan Walden, Sean O’Sullivan, Hank Conger, Peter Bourjos and plenty more.

The only error in my opinion was the paperwork foulup that led to the loss of Warner Madrigal. Otherwise, Tony has kept a good thing going.

This ‘N That – April 16, 2008

Today’s Los Angeles Times reports:

With second baseman Howie Kendrick sidelined by a hamstring strain and reserve outfielder Reggie Willits getting very little playing time, the Angels might send Willits to triple-A Salt Lake to get some at-bats and recall a player such as Brandon Wood or Matt Brown to give them some infield coverage until Kendrick returns.

I asked Angels farm director Abe Flores what I could tell people about the rehab status of Hank Conger, Ryan Mount, Matt Sweeney and Chris Pettit. He said all four should be ready to play no later than the end of the first half. The Angels are usually tight-lipped about such matters, so that’s actually more than I expected to hear and I suspect some of those guys will be activated sooner than mid-June. It’s also good news about Pettit, as early reports had him out for the year with a broken foot. Abe said they’d know more about Chris once he starts his rehab at Tempe but for now it looks like he might be active by the time the second half starts.

Today’s Orange County Register has more on Conger:

The minor-league season is two weeks old, but the Angels’ top draft pick in 2005, catcher Hank Conger, remains at their extended spring camp in Arizona. Conger is one month into a rehabilitation program to treat a torn labrum in his right shoulder.

Conger is hitting without discomfort but is only allowed to do light throwing so far. The Angels are optimistic that surgery will not be necessary and Conger will be able to start his season in early June.

“With Dr. (Lewis) Yocum, surgery is never the first option,” said Angels director of player development Abe Flores, referring to the Angels’ team orthopedist.

Chris Bootcheck made his second rehab appearance last night, throwing the last two innings of the Quakes’ loss at Bakersfield. Boot gave up an unearned run on a hit and two walks, while striking out three.

This ‘N That – April 14, 2008

The Salt Lake Bees are now 11-1 after winning today 5-3 over Portland. Although that’s impressive under any circumstances, a reminder not to get overly excited about their offensive statistics. They’ve played 12 games in the PCL’s most offensively-minded ballparks — Las Vegas, Tucson and Salt Lake. Give the schedule a chance to balance things out and revisit the stats in a month or so.

Today’s Salt Lake Deseret Morning News had an article about the naming rights for Franklin Covey Field about to expire. The article quotes a business professor as saying any new deal will be “close to the bottom” of the scale revenue-wise. Given our recent discussion about how the Bees seem to be fairly low on the Salt Lake City sports pecking order, this would seem to be more evidence of that.

Sean O’Sullivan had a head cold and struggled at times, but he managed to deliver five no-hit innings yesterday at Rancho Cucamonga in the near-100 degree heat. Click Here to watch video footage I shot of Sean’s start.

Before the game, I recorded an interview with outfielder Anthony Norman. Click Here to listen to the interview. He then went out and hit his first professional home run. Click Here to watch his dinger.

Angels reliever Chris Bootcheck didn’t pitch on Sunday but he was at The Epicenter for his daily workout regimen. Click Here to listen to an interview I recorded with Chris. He said this is basically his spring training, which is why he’s at the park every day, whether he’s scheduled to pitch or not.

We talked about rehab players he saw at Rancho when he began his pro career in 2001 with the Quakes. Other than Erick Aybar, off-hand I can’t think of anyone other than Chris who played at Rancho for a significant period of time and then returned later for rehab.  (Not that this is a particular achievement worth striving for …)  Maybe Howie Kendrick and Mike Napoli last year, I’ll have to check the stats.

Breaking news, pun only slightly intended … Travs.com reports that outfielder Aaron Peel suffered a broken left clavicle in Saturday night’s game at Midland. Cliff Remole has been promoted from Rancho. No word who will replace Remo with the Quakes.

The Orem Owlz don’t start play until mid-June so there’s no Hot Stove banquet in Happy Valley, but they do have an annual First Pitch banquet which is scheduled for this Friday April 18. Angels farm director Abe Flores and former second baseman Bobby Grich are the featured speakers. Click Here for more information.

In closing … After a lot of thought, I’ve decided that I won’t travel this year to Cedar Rapids and Arkansas. The cost of flying is becoming too expensive, and if you’ve followed the news you know the airlines are increasingly unreliable. As previously mentioned, I’m also working on a political project that will eat up a lot more of my time in the months ahead.

Last week’s spat with the Bees was also a factor. Not that I expect a similar problem with the Kernels or Travs. Quite the opposite; they’re both class acts, as are their fans. But it made me think about all the mental and physical effort involved to travel cross-country for a four- or five-day shoot, especially when I’m not being paid to do it. In a non-election year like 2007, I have more time to recover, but this year there’s just too much going on. Back in 2000-2001, I had two bouts with an irregular heartbeat that were brought on by pushing myself too far, so I have to remind myself that, to quote Clint Eastwood, a good man knows his limitations.

I feel like I’m letting down the fans, the front offices, and the players’ parents in those towns. I hope you’ll understand.

I do hope to make Orem sometime and also the Arizona summer league, but stay tuned.

This ‘N That

Since Salt Lake has rolled up the welcome mat, I’ll be able to cover the Quakes’ game Sunday against Visalia. Sean O’Sullivan, the Angels’ 2007 minor league pitcher of the year, should be the starting pitcher if the rotation holds. Visalia’s pitcher projects to be Barry Enright, listed by Baseball America as the Arizona Diamondbacks’ #10 prospect.

Which means this game will turn out to be a slugfest.

I received several e-mails yesterday from acquaintances in the Salt Lake area expressing support and sympathy, after the Bees yanked my credential at the last moment. One was a fan who said she felt embarrassed. It’s not her fault, of course. She’s just a paying customer. But it’s more evidence that Bees management really doesn’t grasp the bad image they projected by doing this.

If you read the comments posted in the earlier blog, a photographer misconstrued the issue. The issue is not whether the Bees have the right to control who has access to shoot at the park. The issue is that they didn’t even bother to tell me the credential had been revoked. I made my flight reservations based on the repeated promise that a credential would be waiting for me. If I hadn’t taken the initiative to e-mail staff on Tuesday to confirm it was done, I would have flown to Salt Lake City, rented a car, checked into the hotel, driven to the park, hauled all my camera gear up to the gate, walked into the office — and been told I would be denied access.

That’s the issue.

There is an upside, though … I slightly sprained an ankle shooting last Sunday’s Quakes game at Lake Elsinore. Access to the field is by a long flight of stairs down to the dugouts. I had to carry my gear up about three stories after the game, which is when I probably sprained the ankle. So I’m taking off the next couple days to rest the ankle, and will hobble out to Rancho Sunday and cover Sean O’Sullivan’s start.

Kudos to the Bees’ Matt Brown, who hit for the cycle last night at Tucson. Brownie has never been on the top prospect radar, but made it to the big leagues last year anyway and is off to a red-hot start in 2008. After seven games, his AVG/OBP/SLG are .500/.529/.938. The Bees have won seven straight — four against the Dodgers’ affiliate in Las Vegas, and three in Tucson against the D’backs affiliate.

The Kernels swept a twinbill yesterday against Quad Cities, but even better both games were shutouts. Minor league doubleheader games are seven innings. In Game #1, Mason Tobin went the distance, allowing only three hits and a walk while striking out four. In Game #2, Robert Fish struck out eight in five innings.

The Arkansas Travelers have lost their first five games, which has the locals enraged over on Travelerocity. People need to calm down a bit. The 2001 Texas League championship team opened the season 0-5.

It seems that nearly every affiliate has a segment of their fandom who think the Angels have it out for them. In Salt Lake, the complaint is the Angels always raid their roster for the parent club’s needs. In Arkansas and Cedar Rapids, it’s the Angels take advantage of us because we’re not an Angels market. In Rancho Cucamonga, it’s the Angels take advantage of us because we are an Angels market and they think we’ll tolerate a loser.

The fact of the matter is that every affiliate has its ups and downs over the years. The players underachieving in Arkansas were in Rancho last year, and Cedar Rapids before that. All the talented prospects who went to the Midwest League playoffs in 2007 are in Rancho this year (if we can get Hank Conger, Matt Sweeney and Ryan Mount healthy). That group will be in Arkansas next year, if not sooner.

Minor league baseball doesn’t work like it did fifty years ago. In exchange for franchise stability, minor league baseball long ago agreed to become a training ground for future big leaguers. It’s not about wins and losses, it’s about development. Many times, the teams who do win league pennants are filled with older players who really don’t project as big-league prospects. Everyone wants a winner, but if you want your minor league team to control its own fate then they need to give up their franchise and go into independent ball. Like it or not, that’s the way of the baseball world now.

Anyway … Since I’m grounded for a few days, I’ll be able to catch up on backlogged photos and videos, so watch the FutureAngels.com home page for updates.

And a final reminder … This is the time of year I run up substantial debt due to all the travel to the affiliates to shoot photos and video for you. No one pays me to do this, so if you want to see more you need to do your part by making a one-time donation or signing up for a voluntary $5.00/month subscription. Two new subscribers signed up this week and one made a $50 donation. These are incredibly generous people who understand that FutureAngels.com can survive only if everyone chips in. Won’t you give it some thought?

Bush League

Some people just don’t get it.

 

I was supposed to be in Salt Lake City this weekend to cover the four-game opening series April 11-14 between the Salt Lake Bees and the Portland Beavers.  The Bees were going to get four days of free publicity, and you were going to get four days of video footage showing you Nick Adenhart, Brandon Wood, Nick Green, Matt Brown, Terry Evans, and all the other Angels minor leaguers.

 

But thanks to the unprofessionalism of Bees management, that trip has been cancelled, costing me $275 in non-refundable plane fare.

 

I called the new media relations staffer about two months ago to introduce myself, explain what I do, and tell her about the long history I’ve had since 2001 helping out the Bees (known as the Stingers from 2001-2005).  I’ve shot photos for them, written articles for their game programs, helped local press with media content, and given the Bees lots of free publicity.

 

Without monetary compensation.

 

All I ever got in return was a media credential and an understanding that reprints of the photos would be available through my web site.  Most of the photos — probably over 90% — are purchased by the players, their parents and their loved ones.  It was understood this is for the general benefit of everyone — the team, the players, and their families.  I also performed an archival service for the teams; staff may come and go, but I was protecting their history by storing photos independently.  I did it all for free, knowing that I’d never come close to recovering my expenses.

 

This is the model I’ve practiced with all the Angels affiliates since 1998, when I began shooting photos for Lake Elsinore.  Most minor league operations don’t have the money to pay a team photographer, so they’re more than happy someone is willing to do it for free in exchange for looking the other way on a license.  In ten years of FutureAngels.com operation, it’s never been an issue.

 

Until now.

 

I was informed today by e-mail, three days before my flight, that they’ve changed their minds and I won’t be issued a credential after all.

 

Mind you, I was told two months ago I could come shoot.  I double-checked a month ago, before I ordered my plane tickets, to reaffirm I could come shoot.  Both times I was told yes.

 

But now I’m told I won’t be allowed to shoot because only the staff photographer is allowed to shoot at Franklin Covey Field.  I won’t be credentialed because my photos might be for sale, which is the worst kept secret in eight seasons I’ve been working with Salt Lake.

 

To add insult to the injury my pocketbook just took, I was told that for my trouble they’d leave a free ticket for me to sit in the stands at each game.  But I won’t be allowed to shoot photos.

 

Yeah, right, as if I’m going to spend $500 between plane fare and hotel and rental car to sit in the cheap seats at Franklin Covey twiddling my thumbs for four days.

 

I pointed out that two of my photos were currently on the Bees’ home page, including the feature story about last night’s game at Tucson, more evidence that they benefitted from my work.  They removed the photos rather than acknowledge that mutual benefit.

 

Part of the problem, I think, is that Bees’ management doesn’t understand how minor league baseball works.

 

The Bees are owned by Larry H. Miller, who also owns the NBA’s Utah Jazz.  When he bought the team in 2005, some of the front office staff were let go.  Some of the survivors were transferred to the Jazz’ front office.  In fact, the Bees are pretty much run out of the Delta Center, where the Jazz operate, instead of Franklin Covey Field.  The media staffer’s e-mail address is utahjazz.com, not slbees.com.

 

In the Salt Lake City sports pecking order, the Bees seem to be way down the list below the Jazz, BYU football, and the professional soccer team Real Salt Lake.  I don’t live there, but my aneecdotal impression is that the Bees are an afterthought for the Jazz staff and with the local press.  The Salt Lake Deseret Morning News doesn’t even have a Bees link on its Sports menu.  To be fair, though, locals have told me the Jazz have helped raise the Bees’ visibility with crossover promotions, and Larry H. Miller is one of the most prominent businessmen in Salt Lake City.

 

But minor league baseball teams are not NBA teams.  If you’re low on that pecking order, you shouldn’t be alienating the few people who are willing to help publicize your product, especially when they do it for free.

 

Apparently Bees ownership doesn’t see it that way.  Maybe they think that if they act like they’re big league, that makes them big league.

 

But today’s duplicity shows they’re just bush league.

This ‘N That

The Quakes lost 8-7 in 11 innings yesterday at Lake Elsinore, but I filmed plenty of offense for highlight clips. Click Here to watch Mark Trumbo’s homer. You need Windows Media Player and a broadband Internet connection (cable modem, DSL) to watch. I’ll try to put more footage on line in the next couple days.

Mark homered Saturday night too. I wasn’t there, but his teammates said his first homer cleared the 425′ sign in left-center field. Yesterday’s homer struck the scoreboard in straightaway left field. It’s 380′ to left and about another 40-50 feet to the scoreboard, so those are two impressive pokes.

In the four-game series at Lake Elsinore, Trumbo was 6 for 19 with two homers, three doubles and 5 RBI. I’ve seen a few people post on fan boards that Mark is a “bust” and the Angels should move him back to the mound. After those two prodigious shots, I think Angels management will listen to their coaches who actually have knowledge of the game.

The Los Angeles Times updates us on Chris Bootcheck’s status:

Reliever Chris Bootcheck, on the disabled list because of a strained muscle in his left side, threw two innings in an extended spring training game Saturday and Scioscia said he was making progress toward rejoining the team. Bootcheck could throw three innings his next time out and if everything goes well, Scioscia said, he’ll probably be sent out on a minor league rehabilitation assignment.

I’ll be in Salt Lake April 11-14, so maybe the stars will align and I’ll be able to film Boot pitching on rehab.

Speaking of Salt Lake, hitting coach Jim Eppard was interviewed yesterday on the Angels’ pre-game show. Among many topics, he talked about their tinkering with Brandon Wood. He said Brandon’s hands are so fast that he’s “in and out of the zone” too fast. They want Brandon to wait longer so he can recognize the pitch. Eppard also said they’re trying to level his swing so he’s hitting more line drives and not arc shots. If you visit the FutureAngels.com Video Gallery you’ll see eleven of Wood’s homers from 2005 at Rancho Cucamonga, excellent examples of Brandon’s hitting mechanics — three years ago, anyway.

When I’m in Salt Lake next weekend I’m going to try to record interviews with Wood and Eppard on this subject. Unfortunately most of the “analysis” you get from fans on the Internet is of the “he sucks, trade him!” variety. I’ll go to the source and get you the facts.

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