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 The issue is that they didn’t even bother to tell me the credential had been revoked.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?

4 Comments

It really is a shame the Bees handled the NEW media credentials policy so poorly. Regardless of what kinds of policies–media, concessions, promotions, sales, etc.– the front office management decides to introduce, preexisting agreements must be honored or at least negotiated. Larry H. Miller is used to throwing his substantial financial, religious and social weight around the Wasatch Front. He certainly has the kind of big money that allows him to do whatever he likes, which seems to be reflected at the management levels of his various sports franchises. I wonder what this new policy will mean for the fans who want to take photos? We have a couple of regulars with some pretty nice SLRs and long lenses who shoot from the stands. I don’t know what they do with all the photos, although often they give 8x10s to the players in exchange for signatures, attention, misc. BTW, sure were a lot of freelance news photographers on the field last night. ;-)

Oops, can’t figure out how to edit the last comment–Not sure if the photographers were “freelance”; they may have been staffers. Sorry about that.

On another note, I agree with you Stephen about the competitive expectations of fans/media vs. parent club. See story and comment in this morning’s SL Trib: http://166.70.44.77/comments/read_comments.asp?ref=8901419&sec=Sports#247902

The developmental aspect of the minor league system seems to be the “invisible agenda” for most farm teams. Unless you look for it–by following an individual’s development history or recognizing a manager’s style, it is not readily apparent what’s going on. Naturally, at this elite level, players and managers should be highly competitive by nature–they want to win, for the team as well as their own careers. Just a personal theory, but I believe many parent clubs’ attitudes are “We’ve given you the right potential mix of the best potential tools.” Whether the farm team has a winning season or not is going to depend on whether players and management develop to meet those potentials. The focus has to be on maximizing potential with the effect resulting in a “winning season.” It has to be a long view of success, rather than a short one–win/loss, ERA, BA, HR. Like you, I enjoy looking for clues that indicate a player or manager is making progress towards consistently higher levels of performance. Has a batter with great reflexes and power learned to be patient and draw walks? Has a pitcher figured out how to bounce back from a shelling? Has a manager learned how to generate offense with the players he’s got? More importantly, is he guiding players towards what it takes to leave the minors?Years ago, Phil Roof was always candid about why he would leave a pitcher in “too long” or move a slumping batter up in the lineup. Often criticized for these moves, he would typically respond, “They had better figure out how to handle the pressure (or get out of a slump, or find the strike zone) at this level, because it’s not going to be easier in big leagues. ” I’d always admired Roof’s openness about his managing/coaching philosophy. My impression was that he didn’t handle players, he expected them to act like adults and professionals (albeit not-quite mature ones). I remember All-Star catcher A.J. Pierzynski’s stay here in SLC. Great tools (as has been proven by time) but kind of immature as a person; not a bad kid, a spoiled brat really. For one homestand series, he was “tied” to Phil’s hip during every BP. He had to follow Phil around like a bird dog. I always wondered what dumb thing AJ had done to get this rather humiliating treatment. I still grin when I think about it. (:-))Yet, you never heard about it in the press or noticed it at game time. Phil didn’t seem to use the media to deal with egos or misbehavior. Rather, he went straight to the source and dealt with players face-to-face. So, I actually prefer the minors to “the show” because the farm teams place more of a priority on athletics over entertainment. Strange, but true. (:-D)

The photographers you saw were probably employed by the Bees, and also from the two local papers.

Most newspapers will sell reprints of their photos. I’d love to see the Bees try to tell the Tribune and Deseret Morning News they can’t shoot photos. I wonder if the Bees asked them to sign agreements that they wouldn’t sell reprints. I’m sure the papers would tell them to stuff it.

So basically that puts FutureAngels.com on the same plane as the local papers. Both are media outlets giving the Bees free publicity but will sell reprints upon request.

A few years ago, MLB tried to pull the same stunt with photographers. The papers refused, saying they just wouldn’t shoot any photos and therefore the teams wouldn’t get any free publicity. So that didn’t last long.

Another comment about Bees operations … I’ve noticed last year and this year that their webcast presence is very intermittent. I don’t know what’s the deal, but there hasn’t been a webcast in the MiLB.com archive for a few days now.

All the other affiliates seem capable of producing a simple webcast. Why can’t Salt Lake?

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