Results tagged ‘ Nationals ’

Former Angels Minor League Coaches in the Majors


Tim Wallach managed the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes in 2001.

 

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported on October 25 that Dodgers’ Triple-A manager Tim Wallach had been eliminated as a candidate to manage the Milwaukee Brewers.

Wallach began his managing career with the Angels. In 2001, he ran the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes in their first season as an Angels affiliate. The Quakes finished 63-77 with a roster largely devoid of talent. Wallach was very frustrated with the players’ inability to grasp what he was teaching, although I think it was more that he couldn’t accept they didn’t have the talent to execute what he wanted.

I remember Wallach being tossed from a game, then sitting up the runway in a folding chair. The camera well is at the bottom of the runway where it connects to the dugout. I was in the well shooting photography; Wallach would call down to me when he wanted to relay a message to the bench.

On another occasion, Wallach made a pitching change and while the pitcher warmed up the umpire approached Tim and gestured in my direction. Whatever it was, it was quite the animated discussion. What had I done?! Tim approached me and said:

“The umpire wants to know if you’ll take pictures of him.”

Only in the minors …

Doug Sisson, another former Angels minor league manager, recently landed the first base coaching job with the Kansas City Royals. He managed the Arkansas Travelers in 2002, finishing with a 51-89 record. That would have been largely the talent pool Wallach had in 2001.

Former Yankee Bobby Meacham managed the Quakes in 2002-2004. He began a major league coaching career in 2006, when he was the third base coach for the Florida Marlins. He was the Padres’ first base coach in 2007, then the Yankees’ third base coach in 2008. This year, he was the first base coach for the Astros.

And although he never coached in our system, the Nationals’ general manager Mike Rizzo played in the Angels’ minors from 1982 through 1984. (The 1984 Redwood Pioneers were Tom Kotchman’s first Angels team.) Rizzo just added the title Vice-President of Baseball Operations to his business card, giving him the authority to report directly to ownership.

Coast to Coast: Stephen Strasburg’s Debut

One advantage of having the organization with the worst winning percentage in your backyard is you get to see top prospects, thanks to the team drafting first.

And so it was that Stephen Strasburg came to the Space Coast on Monday to make his professional pitching debut in the fall instructional league for the Nationals against the Tigers.

This was probably the most highly attended game in instructional league history. One paper guessed it was fifty patrons, but the truth is so many Nationals staff, media, fans, and rubber-neckers were about you really couldn’t tell who was a “fan” and who wasn’t. There was no admission fee, no tickets required, so anyone could walk in.

ESPN covered the event live, with a stationary camera high in the press box shooting through the net. Boring.

I was behind home plate with my camcorder, shooting through the net, for my other site SpaceCoastBaseball.com. Unlike ESPN or other media in attendance, I went down to the bullpen to film Strasburg’s warmup and got the only footage that showed you the batter’s perspective.

Click Here to watch the Strasburg video. You need Windows Media Player and a broadband (cable modem, DSL) Internet connection to watch.

It’s amazing what one hot prospect can do for a web site’s hit count. The number of unique visitors increased ten-fold yesterday over the number of usual SpaceCoastBaseball.com visitors. The site is new, so not many people know about it, but events like this help spread the word.

There’s also a sense of deja vu covering the Nationals. It reminds me of what the Angels went through in the late 1990s, when Baseball America ranked us the worst organization in baseball. After the Gulf Coast League (Rookie-A) Nationals won the pennant on September 3, I told local staff that I knew what it felt like to have everyone treat you like you were inept. Better times are ahead, and the pennant is a sign of that. In fact, a big championship pennant now flies alongside Stadium Parkway outside the minor league complex office.

Strasburg’s debut was a lot of hype, of course, for a meaningless instructional league game. But it gave the Nats’ staff another little ray of hope for the future.

Coast to Coast: Nationals Win GCL Pennant

Nothing to do directly with the Angels, but the Viera Nationals won the Gulf Coast League pennant today, 5-4 over the Jupiter Marlins.

I was there to film it for my sister web site SpaceCoastBaseball.com. If you’re interested, Click Here to watch the final out and celebration. Windows Media Player and a broadband (cable modem, DSL) Internet connection are required.

Nothing beats a good dogpile for must-see TV.

Coast to Coast: Back on Base


Manager Bob Henley and Coach Cesar Cedeno lead the Viera Nationals through a series of baserunning drills.

 

I spent yesterday at the Washington Nationals’ minor league training complex in Viera. It’s very similar to the Angels’ Tempe Diablo complex, where the minor league facility is across the parking lot from their spring training ballpark.

It very much had an “alternate universe” feeling to it, as I’m so used to being with the Tempe Angels. It’s Tempe with an ocean breeze — which, this time of year when it’s 110 degrees in Phoenix, is a good thing.

The Nationals are referred to as the “Nats,” not to be confused with “gnats” which seem to be everywhere as much of Viera was once swamp land. The Brevard County Manatees, who play in Space Coast Stadium at the southern end of the complex, are a Brewers affiliate in the Florida State League, an Advanced-A league which is the same level as the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. The Viera Nationals are in the Rookie-A Gulf Coast League, which is the same as our Rookie-A Tempe Angels.

Like I said, it’s an alternate universe.

The Manatees get a little coverage in the local paper Florida Today, but no one pays attention to the GCL Nats. That probably explains why they were so welcoming, because this is where major league careers begin and no one knows all the hard work and effort that go into making that happen.

The Nationals haven’t had a lot of positive publicity in recent years, as the transplanted Montreal Expos are the worst team in baseball and their front office has been in turmoil all year. General Manager Jim Bowden resigned in March in the wake of a Dominican signing bonus skimming scandal, and Manager Manny Acta was fired last month. But the Nationals have won eight in a row under new manager Jim Riggleman and interim GM Mike Rizzo, who began his professional career decades ago under legendary Angels minor league manager Tom Kotchman.

There are other Angels-Nationals crossovers. Former catcher Bob Boone is in the front office as an assistant general manager and vice-president of player development. Long-time Angels minor league manager and scout Moose Stubing is a special assistant to the general manager. Former outfielder Devon White is a minor league outfielder instructor.

Jose Cardenal, an Angels outfielder in the 1960s, is another special advisor and was here yesterday observing the game. Cardenal was acquired by the Angels from the Giants on November 21, 1964 for catcher Jack Hiatt. Jack has been a good friend to FutureAngels.com. An original “future Angel” who played on the 1961 Statesville Owls, Jack recently retired as the Giants’ farm director and still travels for them on special assignments.

I shot photos and flimed video during yesterday’s game, which was fraught with errors both physical and mental. The Nats won 6-4, but manager Bob Henley kept them late working on baserunning drills with coach Cesar Cedeno. You may remember Cesar as a star outfielder with the Houston Astros in the 1970s.

I filmed Bob and Cesar working the players through the drills. Click Here to watch the baserunning drill video. The clip runs about 16 minutes.

If and when he signs, first-round draft pick and super-prospect Stephen Strasburg should report here to Viera to begin his professional career, so I should be here to cover that.

In the meantime, there’s still this eerie sensation that I’ve stepped into a Twilight Zone episode.

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