Results tagged ‘ Administration/General ’

This ‘N That

Former Angels prospect Steven Shell made his major league debut Sunday with the Washington Nationals.

 

Taking a break from Cedar Rapids to talk about happenings elsewhere in the Angels universe …

So I’m driving home from work today and turn on the Angels radiocast to hear the Angels have a comfortable 8-1 lead in Washington. Cool. Then I hear Steve Physioc say that the Nationals have brought in Steven Shell to pitch.

Wow!

Steven was a third-round pick by the Angels in the June 2001 draft, an original Provo Angel, pitched in the 2003 California League All-Star Game for Rancho Cucamonga, and was considered a top pitching prospect until he falted at upper levels in the Angels system. During 2007, his final year with the Angels, Steven was moved to the bullpen. He wasn’t on the 40-man roster at season’s end, so he took his six-year minor league free agency and signed with D.C.

The Nationals sent him to Triple-A Columbus to start 2008. He began the year in the bullpen, made four starts, then went back to relief. When he was called up, Steven had a 2.62 ERA in 58 1/3 innings with a 54:14 SO:BB ratio and a 1.08 WHIP.

Shell is only 25 years old. Some guys take longer to develop than others. Organizations as deep in talent as the Angels lose more prospects to six-year minor-league free agency because they can only protect 40 players at a time (including the 25 major leaguers). I wish Steven nothing but the best — except against us.

Some other performances of note:

  • Quakes outfielder Anthony Norman has 29 stolen bases in 30 attempts. He also has 12 homers. An afterthought at UCLA and a non-drafted free agent who was finally brought to the Angels’ attention, Anthony is becoming this year’s feel-good story. His AVG/OBP/SLG are .266/.390/.528. I was skeptical last year when he was the Rookie-A Arizona League’s MVP at age 22, which is very old for that league, but at age 23 in the Cal League that puts him on the fringe of the age range for top prospects.
  • Mark Trumbo is sticking it to the fan board critics who last winter wrote him off as a “bust” and insisted he be returned to the mound as a pitcher. Mark has 17 HR so far and a line of .293/.334/.558. Here’s a positive statistic — in 294 AB, he has only 43 strikeouts, or one every 6.8 AB. That’s an excellent rate for a power hitter.
  • Peter Bourjos is another early candidate for Angels’ minor league player of the year. Impressed by Norman’s 29 for 30 SB rate? Bourjos is 37 for 39. His line is .331/.366/.470. The question is whether Pete will develop enough power to one day step into the Angels’ lineup as a starting center fielder, but as Chone Figgins has shown you don’t need a lot of pop to lead off a lineup. Borujos also makes excellent contract, striking out once every 6.38 AB.
  • Kernels pitcher Trevor Reckling’s scoreless inning streak ended Saturday at 29 innings, but he made up for it by striking out ten in 7 IP. In 13 starts (79.2 IP), Reck has a 2.37 ERA and a 60:40 SO:BB ratio. He’s given up only three dingers. Not bad for a 19-year old in the Midwest League.
  • And let’s close with top prospect Jordan Walden, who has a 2.57 ERA with the Kernels in 14 starts (80.2 IP). J-Wal has a 64:23 SO:BB ratio and 1.04 WHIP.

On deck … I fly to Utah on Friday for three days with the Orem Owlz. Friday night is at Ogden against their rivals, the Raptors (a Dodgers affiliate). The Owlz have won six straight against Ogden, so their fans should be good ‘n riled up. Saturday and Sunday, we’re at home against the Casper Ghosts, formerly known as the Casper Rockies. Sunday’s game is a doubleheader.

As always, I’ll try to post game summaries, videos, the traditional Tom Kotchman interview, and whatnot.

This ‘N That

An article on today’s Provo Daily Herald web site reports that third-rounder Ryan Chaffee will be a little late reporting to Orem:

The Owlz will likely get a boost down the road with the addition of a few other arms. Third-round pick Ryan Chaffee is recovering from an injury, and could miss the first half of the season, but if the Owlz do get him, he could be worth planning your night at the ballpark around.

He broke his ankle in April, but when he returned, he pitched a shutout in the Florida Junior College tournament and fanned 18.

Sounds like he’ll be reporting to Orem right around the time I head for Tempe. Figures.

The Owlz open tonight against their rivals, the Ogden Raptors. Ogden expanded its park, Linquist Field, during the off-season. I’ll be in the Salt Lake area June 27-29 to shoot the Owlz games. The June 27 game is at Ogden. The Ogden fans are always a lot of fun, a real rowdy bunch.

A Kernels press release states that the City of Cedar Rapids has given them the green light to proceed with their eight-game homestand starting Thursday. It should be interesting to see what the turnout is like, and the emotional state of the crowd.

Cedar Rapids Gazette beat writer Jeff Johnson noted in his blog the video we shot Sunday with Quakes manager Ever Magallanes and Quakes players wishing well to Cedar Rapids. Click Here to watch the video. Windows Media Player and a broadband (cable modem, DSL) Internet connection required.

I took a lap around the Angels fan sites this afternoon, and haven’t found one that even mentioned the disaster in Cedar Rapids much less encouraged people to donate to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund to help. Disappointing.

Based on the raw numbers, it appears that somewhere around 20% of the city’s population is homeless right now. That’s a staggering number, when you consider the population is about 125,000. One of every five residents cannot go home. Think about that in your home town.

Every once in a while, I’ll see some Kernels fan argue the team should seek an affiliation elsewhere because “the Angels don’t care about Cedar Rapids.” Well, this is an opportunity for Angels ownership and Angels fans to show that isn’t true.

If Arte Moreno would step up now and make a public announcement the Angels are starting a disaster relief fund, it would send a message to Cedar Rapids to have hope because help is coming.

This ‘N That

Right about now, I’d intended to be on the road to Rancho Cucamonga to shoot photos and video at today’s Quakes game against Inland Empire.

But the fates have conspired against me.

The main culprit is the political project I’m mentioned in earlier posts. That’s eating up so much time that I don’t have spare time for much of anything else.

For example, it took me almost three months to complete processing the photos I shot last March at minor league spring training. They’re finally online now in the FutureAngels.com Digital Photo Gallery.

Of course, with gas now above $4/gallon and rising, it doesn’t take much to discourage long-distance driving.

The Quakes are home next Sunday, so I’ll try to make it out then. I want to see the newly arrived Hank Conger and Ryan Mount.

The Angels’ 2008 draft is over, and if you read posts on certain fan boards the front office staff should be fired because the Angels didn’t have a first-round draft pick. (Mind you, the pick was lost as compensation for signing Torii Hunter …)

The cluelessness of such rants aside, which round a player is selected in really doesn’t mean much any more.

Nick Adenhart was considered the top high school pitching prospect going into the 2004 draft, but blew out his elbow and underwent “Tommy John” surgery. The Angels took a chance on him in the 14th round, signed him for half of a first-round bonus, and at age 21 he made his major league debut this year.

Mark Trumbo had signed a letter of intent to go to USC, but the Angels selected him in the 18th round of the 2004 draft and paid him first-round bonus money to lure him away from SoCal. Having altered his hitting mechanics — a process duly noted in recent years by FutureAngels.com — Trumbo is now tearing up the California League. Today’s Inland Valley Daily Bulletin has a lengthy article on Mark. Trumbo’s current AVG/OBP/SLG are .308/.350/.583. He’s on a pace for over 30 homers.

Cedar Rapids pitcher Jordan Walden fell to the 12th round in the 2006 draft. His velocity dropped due to a groin injury, and there were signability issues. The Angels picked him anyway and waited while Jordan went to junior college. They signed him in May 2007 and now he’s on the fast track. In eleven starts (64.2 IP), Walden has a 2.78 ERA, a 1.07 WHIP, and a 53:19 SO:BB ratio.

Teammate and buddy Trevor Reckling was signed out of a tiny New Jersey prep school with a mediocre baseball program, but scout Greg Morhardt saw his potential and got the Angels to choose Trevor in the 8th round of the 2007 draft. “Reck” has now pitched 20 straight scoreless innings for the Kernels, dropping his ERA to 2.64 in 64.2 IP.

The Angels’ major league roster has plenty other guys who weren’t first-round picks. Mike Napoli’s name was called in the 17th round of the 2000 draft. Howie Kendrick was selected in the 10th round of the 2002 draft. Chone Figgins was a 4th round pick by the Colorado Rockies, acquired by the Angels in a minor league trade in 2002 for outfielder Kimera Bartee, and has become an elite leadoff hitter. Reggie Willits was a 7th round pick in 2003. Scot Shields was a 38th round pick in 1997.

And then there are players like Ervin Santana, Erick Aybar and Francisco Rodriguez, who are not subject to the draft and are therefore signed through good scouting.

I suspect the true motivation behind the mouths calling for Reagins et al to be fired are really just people looking for attention by posting stupid messages guaranteed to offend people. In any case, they’re not real Angels fans, just trolls.

By the way, the Angels are now tied with the Cubs for the best record in baseball.

Before I go, a recommendation to check out The Sporkball Journals, a new blog by BeesGal, a frequent supporter of FutureAngels.com and — as you may suspect — a Salt Lake Bees fan.

Back to politics …

Where Are They Now?

Having run FutureAngels.com for ten years, a lot of players have crossed my path. Once they leave the Angels’ organization, we tend to lose track of them, but every once in a while I’ll see their names in a box score and think, “He’s still out there playing?!”

So I thought I’d give you some names you might remember and take a look at where they’re at now.

Let’s lead off with Dallas McPherson, once projected as the Angels’ third baseman — the Angels let Troy Glaus depart as a free agent to make room for Dallas — but a chronic back injury led to increasing severe surgeries and longer recovery times. Dallas was let go last winter to find his fortune elsewhere.

Dallas is currently in the Florida Marlins’ system, playing for their Triple-A affiliate in Albuquerque. The city is one of those high-elevation ballparks I’m always warning you about when you look at PCL stats, so Isotopes’ numbers have to be viewed with a bit of suspicion.

Playing every day at third base, Dallas is showing signs of recovering his career. His AVG/OBP/SLG are .289/.383/.625 with 15 HR. His home/road OPS split is 1.069/.951. His main vulnerability right now is exposure to left-handed pitchers; he’s batting just .194 against southpaws.

Outfielder Nick Gorneault was claimed on waivers last October by the Rangers, only to be given his minor-league free agency in December. Nick signed with the Astros and has been playing for Triple-A Round Rock. Deprived of Salt Lake’s friendly confines, Nick’s AVG/OBP/SLG are only .226/.324/.371. He’s the regular left fielder for the Express.

Tommy Murphy was granted free agency last October and signed with the Washington Nationals, who assigned him this year to Triple-A Columbus. His numbers are .261/.356/.359. Murph has played all three outfield positions and second base, recalling his early days as a shortstop in the Angels system.

Pitcher Steven Shell was a third-round pick in the June 2001 draft. Once projected as a major league starter, he didn’t progress quickly enough to hold onto his status, eventually wound up in the Salt Lake bullpen last year and was given his minor-league free agency. Shell is also assigned with the Nationals and is Murphy’s teammate at Columbus. Steven started the season in the bullpen but has returned to the rotation and made four starts. Overall, he has a 3.29 ERA in 41.0 IP with a 37:12 SO:BB ratio and a 1.22 WHIP. I always felt Steven just required a little patience; not everyone evolves at the same rate.

Shawn Wooten was a fan favorite during the 2002 World Series run. He’s been knocking around the minors the last few years. In 2007, he caught for the Padres’ Double-A team, got released, played a little independent ball, then was signed by the Mets and played 15 games for Triple-A New Orleans. New York released Woot on May 3 this year and he re-signed with the Padres. He’s currently with the Portland team in Salt Lake to play the Bees.

Reliever Steve Andrade had a funky delivery that actually had his head turned at a 90-degree angle towards first base when he released the ball. The Blue Jays claimed him on waivers in December 2004, sending him on a bizarre odyssey that became a running joke in e-mail between his mom and me. Tampa Bay selected him in the December 2005 Rule 5 draft, then traded him the same day to San Diego. The Royals claimed him on waivers the next spring, brought him up to Kansas City for four games, then released him in June. The Padres signed him for the balance of 2006, then he took his minor league free agency and re-signed with Tampa Bay. Steve is currently with the Double-A Montgomery Biscuits and is posting typical numbers — 3.00 ERA in 13 relief appearances, five saves, a 30:9 SO:BB ratio in 18.0 IP.

If you’re curious about anyone else, post a question and I’ll see what I can find out.


UPDATE 5:00 PM PDT — Shawn Wooten homered and doubled today for Portland in their 9-8 11-inning win over the Bees. As they used to say in Anaheim, Woooooot …

This ‘N That

As I’ve previously noted, I’m busy this year on a political project that eats up a lot of my free time. That’s the main reason you haven’t seen more posts on this blog in recent weeks.

Given the skyrocketing cost of gas, the political diversion is probably a good thing because I’d be travelling a lot more. At this point, I think it would cost me about $16 or so just to make one round trip to Rancho Cucamonga.

The cost of flying is going up too, while service continues to decline. My wife got stranded on a short hop today returning from Colorado because of a problem with the plane. (U.S. Airways, in case you’re interested …) So although I miss my friends in Cedar Rapids and North Little Rock, I’m kinda glad I’m not making those trips this year because of all the aforementioned reasons.

I did finalize plans to visit Orem June 27-30. Unlike their brethren up the I-15 in Salt Lake, I’m assured that I will be welcome to shoot photos and video in the ballpark.

It should be an interesting trip. Friday night June 27 is a road game at Ogden, on the north side of Salt Lake City. The Raptors fans are a fun, rowdy bunch. A Friday night crowd in particular should be quite entertaining once they get a couple beers down …

The June 28-30 games are against the Casper Ghosts, formerly known as the Casper Rockies. Their caps supposedly glow in the dark under certain conditions. Casper owner Kevin Haughian was once the GM of the Lake Elsinore Storm when they were the Angels’ California League affiliate in the 1990s. Whenever Orem plays Casper, I always shoot photos of the Casper players to help out Kevin. Salt Lake aside, that’s what the minor leagues are all about — everyone helps out everyone else.

It’s reasonable to assume that at least half of the Orem squad right now is in high school or college. Unlike the other affiliates, where you have a good educational guess who will be there come Opening Night, it’s kinda hard to hype the team when you have no idea who will be on your roster.

I’m hoping Korean prospect Young-Il Jung might rejoin the Owlz after missing most of 2007 with an elbow injury. If not, maybe I’ll see him pitch at Tempe sometime in July or August.

The crummy economy struck my wife’s employer on Friday while she was out of town. Massive layoffs were announced; she was offered an early retirement buyout. If she declines, she could walk the plank too.

As you’ve heard probably one too many times, we’re heading for Florida in less than four years. We were hoping to survive our employers, but she might not make it. Should she lose her income, that will definitely impact my travel schedule since we’ll have to watch our pennies.

Speaking of Florida … my future home team, the Brevard County Manatees, set a first-pitch record today. They should be up to almost 7,000 by now. Minor league teams always look for wacky promotions; this is one I haven’t heard of before, but it’s a good idea.

The Arkansas Travelers have certainly turned it around. They won their seventh straight tonight, 6-0 over rival Northwest Arkansas, to move within two games of the first place Naturals. Ben Johnson hit his 9th homer tonight, which should put him on a pace to hit about 30 HR or so this year. Fernie Rodriguez, who came in with a 6.85 ERA, threw a complete-game shutout, striking out eight while scattering five hits and walking just one.

One big factor in the turnaround was importing independent league players, some of whom are experienced minor leaguers released by other organizations. Travs COO Bill Valentine has been quite vocal expressing his opinion that the Angels should help him put a competitive product on the field by signing veteran players from the independent leagues, instead of using younger players from down the ladder who’ve been promoted ahead of their talent curve. Adam Morrissey, Corey Smith, Jordan Czarniecki, Adam Greenberg, and Dan Denham all came from outside the organization to make significant contributions.

At the other end of the scale, the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes so far have been a big disappointment. Sure, they’ve been crippled by the loss of critical position players — Hank Conger, Matt Sweeney, and Ryan Mount — but it’s a mystery why the pitching staff hasn’t lived up to expectations. They’re better than a 4.94 team ERA. Their team AVG/OBP/SLG of .257/.315/.390 are all subpar numbers for their talent.

One bright exception is center fielder Peter Bourjos, who in my opinion is the early leader for the Angels’ minor league player of the year award. Pete’s line is .340/.373/.480 with 24 SB in 26 attempts. He fits into the Angels’ Contactball philosophy, with only 26 strikeouts in 150 AB. The only tool yet to manifest itself is significant power, but that usually seems to come last with many players.

Anyway, time to get back to muckraking …

This ‘N That

The Bees suffered a rare loss last night in Memphis. They’re now 24-3.

Center fielder Brad Coon has played in 25 games, and reached base in all of them. He did not have hits in five of those games. How did he reach base? He walked in three of them. The other two, he was hit by a pitch. The tough way to keep a streak going.

Coon was someone considered a sleeper when he was selected in the 15th round of the June 2005 draft. His speed and ability to reach base projected him as a prospect. At age 22+, he was quite old for Rookie-A Orem. He continued behind the age curve until this year. In 2007, he split the season between Rancho Cucamonga (.258/.344/.311 in 74 games) and Arkansas (.301/.372/.385 in 58 games). He figured to return to North Little Rock for 2008, but made the Salt Lake roster out of spring training. He’s now 25 (DOB 12/11/82), so he’s at a level more typical of his contemporaries.

Brad’s AVG/OBP/SLG so far are .340/.438/.388. I’m usually not much of a fan of guys whose on-base percentage is higher than their slugging percentage, because singles hitters went out of vogue with the 1960s. But if the player is a base stealer, he effectively turns those singles and walks into doubles. Coon had a SB/CS ratio of 55/21 with Cedar Rapids in 2006, and a combined 56/21 ratio in 2007. In 2008 to date, he’s at only 6:5, probably because he’s seeing not only experienced catchers but he’s also trying to swipe bags off pitchers who know how to hold a runner on base.

Of his 35 hits so far, only three are for extra bases — two doubles and a homer. But he’s also making contact — he has a SO:BB ratio of 17:16 in 103 AB.

With four veteran outfielders, Reggie Willits and Juan Rivera ahead of him in Anaheim, I don’t know how Brad projects into a future Anaheim roster. But you never know.

Quakes CF Peter Bourjos leads the Angels system in stolen bases this year with 17, with Kernels LF Jeremy Moore is right behind him at 15. Next is Kernels SS Andrew Romine at 13 and then Quakes LF Anthony Norman at 7.

John Lackey is still scheduled to make a rehab start Sunday at Rancho Cucamonga. Howie Kendrick’s rehab was pushed back a few days after he felt some soreness working out in Anaheim. The latest media reports have him at Rancho sometime next week. The Quakes have Monday off, then host Inland Empire for three May 6-8 at The Epicenter.

Unless fate intervenes, I’ll be at Rancho tomorrow to videotape Lackey’s start. Look for highlights on FutureAngels.com sometime Sunday night or Monday.

The Milwaukee Brewers have designated Derrick Turnbow for assignment. He’d have to pass through waivers and then accept a minor league assignment, or he could take his free agency. Personally, I’d like to see the Angels claim him if they get the chance. The bullpen has been a bit thin so far and Turnbow grew up in the system after being claimed from Philadelphia during the December 1999 Rule 5 Draft. But I suspect someone else will claim him before the Angels get a shot, as waivers go in reverse order of winning percentage.

If you’ve been reading this blog over the last year, you know my wife and I have long-range plans to move to the Space Coast of Florida in about four years. Our next real estate scouting trip is tentatively planned for late August. I want her to experience the worst of the weather to be sure she can handle the heat, humidity and hurricanes.

I checked the Florida State League schedule to see if the Brevard County Manatees or Daytona Cubs might be home, and noticed their regular season schedules end with the month of August. Almost all the other full-season leagues traditionally end Labor Day weekend. Maybe it’s because hurricane season starts around then. When Hurricane Frances blew through on September 5, 2004, it destroyed half the scoreboard at Space Coast Stadium and damaged the roof. Up the coast in Daytona, Frances and Hurricane Jeanne tore off the batting cage roof and most of the outfield wall signage, and collapsed the light towers.

Sure beats boring Southern California weather, doesn’t it?

Whenever I tell a Californian about our Florida plans, inevitably the first thing they ask is, “What about the hurricanes?” But when I travel back east and tell people where I live now, inevitably the first thing they ask is, “What about the earthquakes?”

In closing … As mentioned in earlier blogs, I’m busy this year with a political project so I don’t have as much free time as usual. I’m still working on spring training photos, which you’ll find in the FutureAngels.com digital photo gallery. Anyone can shoot an action shot; I prefer to capture images that have some sort of interesting subject.

Below are some images you’ll find in the gallery. You can order reprints of any image on the site.


Angels Manager Mike Scioscia visited the minor league complex on March 17. He watched the bullpen thrown by pitcher Tommy Mendoza and caught by Hank Conger.

 


Ben Johnson catches a warmup pitch from Shane Loux before the Double-A spring training game on March 17.

 


Pitchers participate in a fielding drill.

 


Catcher Brian Walker shows some hustle chasing after a loose ball.

 


The main entrance to the minor league complex office.

 


My guilty pleasure is photographing baseball gear in its natural habitat. Nothing is posed. This shot has everything — bat, glove, shoe, jacket with team logo.

 

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.

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.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.