Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Arhart named VSBB Player of the Month for June

The bloggers at the Victoria Seals Baseball Blog (VSBB) are proud to announce that Josh Arhart has been named the VSBB Player of the Month for June. Arhart batted .316 in June with an impressive 6 homers and 22 RBIs in 23 games. He also showed great patience at the plate with 11 walks in his 76 at-bats and he is currently on an eight-game hitting streak. In addition to his offensive contributions, "Arrrrrrrhart" has been solid behind the plate for the Seals this season.

Third baseman Brian Rios finished a close second in voting. Rios posted a splendid .383 batting average for the month with 3 homers and 12 RBIs. He has registered at least one hit in 16 of his last 17 games and he is also on an eight-game hitting streak.

Terrence "T-Mac" McClain finished in third place in the voting on the basis of his .337 average, 4 homers and 16 RBIs during the month. He also chipped in with eight steals in eight attempts. McClain now stands fourth in the GBL in steals with 10 and he is seventh in the league in homers with a total of seven round-trippers.

McClain, who was named VSBB Player of the Month for May, remains in first place in the race for the Player of the Year award. The year-to-date standings are as follows:
  • Terrence McClain - 4 points
  • Josh Arhart - 3 points
  • Brian Rios - 3 points
  • Wilver Perez - 1 point
  • Brandon Villafuerte - 1 point

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Hess back on the Seals mound!

Oh yeah he is! The Seals announced today that last year's GBL all-star and 2009 Baseball America Top Prospect Isaac Hess has rejoined the team, fresh from his work in the AAA Mexican League.

Isaac is here in town, and is likely to pitch in the Tijuana series which starts tomorrow.

This is fantastic news for Seals fans, who grew to love Isaac's dedication and tenacity on the mound during the 2009 season. In 16 games for the Seals, Hess was 9-2 with an ERA of 3.89. He has recently struggled in Mexico, sporting a 3-3 record and 5.59 ERA with minimal playing time, but look for all that to change when he hits the friendly confines of Royal Athletic.

With the first half of the season almost in the bag, the Seals seem to be turning things around offensively. With the addition of an All-Star pitcher with solid GBL experience joining the staff, optimism for the second half of the season is sky high.

Welcome back to Victoria, Isaac!

Editor's Note: 

Hess will get the prestigious Canada Day start! Get your tickets ASAP or you might be sitting out in the football stands. 
Last year, Austin Bibens-Dirkx got the Canada Day start and it turned out to be his last game for the Seals after being signed by the Chicago Cubs. 

Tijuana series preview

It’s time to say “Hola!” to the GBL’s other expansion team, the Tijuana Cimarrones (“Rams”). The Cimarrones and the Seals are set to start a five-game series at Royal Athletic Park Wednesday night and it should be a fun weekend for the hometown fans. Unlike the upstart Maui squad, the Tijuana team has had a rocky start to its inaugural season. Not only do the Cimarrones have the worst record in the league (5 wins and 28 losses), but multiple sources have reported that the players have not yet been paid in 2010. To add insult to injury, Tijuana had to forfeit a home game last Thursday when all of their equipment was stolen and they couldn’t field a team. Perhaps the RAP hecklers should go easy on our Mexican visitors this weekend.

Tale of the Tape

Victoria 14-19 (.424, 4th in North Division), .262 team batting average, 5.56 team ERA
Tijuana 5-28 (.152, 5th in South Division), .245 team batting average, 8.47 team ERA

On paper, the Seals are definitely the better team. Of course, the Seals haven’t exactly been an offensive juggernaut this season, but they seem to have turned the corner after scoring 26 runs against Calgary in their last four games (all wins). Tijuana is the only team to lag behind Victoria in batting average and runs scored.

The Seals pitching staff is 8th in the league in team ERA, but they limited the Vipers to only six runs in their three-game sweep of Calgary last weekend. Tijuana’s pitching is simply abysmal – they lead the league in both walks (160) and home runs allowed (50).

Tijuana – Who’s Hot / Who’s Not

Third baseman Kit Pellow, who spent parts of the last two seasons with Calgary, has an eight-game hitting streak going. In those eight games, he’s hitting .467 with 2 homers and 10 RBIs. Infielders Mark Samuelson and Eric Scriven are hitting .350 and .333, respectively, since joining the team in mid-June. On the other side of the coin, catcher Carlos Dominguez is only hitting .158 since he joined the Cimarrones in the middle of this month (as you might expect, the Tijuana roster has had a ton of turnover this year).

On the pitching side, only starter Cesar Martinez (1-0, 2.31 ERA) and relievers Andrew Demott (1-0, 1.23 ERA) and Julio Santana (0-2, 3.24 ERA) have shown that they can get GBL hitters out with any regularity.

Victoria – Who’s Hot / Who’s Not

Josh Arhart is riding a seven-game hitting streak, batting .500 with 3 homers and a whopping 16 RBIs in those games. Wilver Perez is 7-for-15 with 6 steals in the four games that he has played since returning from his three-game suspension and he now leads the league in steals with 23. Brian Rios sports a nifty .374 batting average and he is also on a seven-game hitting streak; “Inky” has notched a hit in 15 of his last 16 games. Not everyone on the Seals is swinging a hot bat. For instance, Mike Mooney is only 1-for-17 since his impressive first weekend with the team. Chris Van Rossum is 3-for-33 with 10 strikeouts in his last 12 games.

Hard-luck pitcher Jino Gonzalez (0-4, 4.62 ERA) has been Victoria’s best starter of late. He has a 2.25 ERA in his last three starts. Anthony Pluta (1-0, 2.96 ERA) has posted two impressive starts in a row and he’ll be one to watch on the weekend. Brandon Villafuerte has had four good outings in a row to recover from a rough patch. On the negative side, the pre-season ace of the staff, Jason Kershner, has a 7.67 ERA in his last five starts.

Keys to the Series

About the only thing that can derail the Seals in this series is overconfidence. They are clearly the better team on paper, but as we all know baseball is played on grass. One thing that will be interesting to watch is how many steals Victoria racks up this weekend. The Seals lead the league with 71 stolen bases and the Cimarrones are dead last with only 15.


The crowds will be larger, the beer will be cold and it will be a lot of fun to be at Royal Athletic Park this weekend. I’m expecting that feel-good buzz to permeate the old ball yard like it did for most of 2009. I’m predicting that the Seals will take 4-of-5 from Tijuana, but one word of advice: don’t leave any of these games before the final out is made. No lead will be safe in this series, so stick around and witness what will likely be a ton of offense.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Seals back on track

The Victoria Seals have raised their record on the season to 14-19 by reeling off four straight wins against a strong Calgary Vipers squad. Victoria starts a five-game series against the league's worst team, the Tijuana Cimarrones, on Wednesday night at Royal Athletic Park (look for a series preview on our blog coming soon). Victoria will then close out the first half of the season with a six-game series in Maui from July 6th to the 11th.

Seal Blubber Bits
  • Phil Ortez was released to make room for Kyle Orr on the Seals' roster.
  • The white-hot Brian Rios is now sixth in the league in hitting with a .374 average. He has hits in 15 of his last 16 games and he has a .463 average with 2 homers and 9 RBIs in that span. 
  • Wilver Perez is 7-for-15 with 6 steals in the four games that he has played since returning from his three-game suspension. It's no coincidence that the Seals have won all four of those games. The bench-clearing brawl may end up being the turning point of the season for the Seals. Wilver now leads the league in steals with 23 (he stole 24 for Victoria over the entire 2009 season).
  • The Seals Director of Broadcasting & Media Relations, Mike Walker, graduated from the same high school as Kyle Orr in 2006.  Both attended Lambrick Park Secondary School.
  • Anthony Pluta (1-0, 2.96 ERA) is quietly putting together a solid year and the biggest reason is that he has greatly improved his control. In 2009, Pluta walked 14.3 batters per nine innings, but this season that number has dropped to 5.2.
  • Eri Yoshida had her second consecutive good outing on Thursday night for the Chico Outlaws. She limited the Edmonton Capitals to two runs on three hits and three walks in five innings pitched. Her ERA now stands at 5.25, which is better than two of her teammates on the Outlaws -- and 40% of the entire Victoria Seals pitching staff. I'm just sayin'...

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Seals go local with recent addition

Charlie Strandlund make some room - you're not the only local hero in town anymore...

The Seals filled a roster hole Friday by signing Victoria native Kyle Orr. Orr comes via the Los Angeles Dodgers organization he was drafted into back in 2006. Kyle spent four years in the Gulf Coast and Pioneer Leagues, before spending a single game earlier this month in the Arizona league prior to his release. He has also suited up for a Canada team that played against spring training teams in Florida back in 2006.

Born in New Westminster, this 21 year old first baseman returns to his hometown to play for friends and family here in Victoria, and becomes (as far as I can tell) the youngest Seal on record. Orr is a career .225 hitter, with 11 home runs and a hefty 161 strikeouts in 481 plate appearances. In the field, Orr steps up his game with a historical .984 fielding percentage at first, a position the Seals could really use some stability.

A revolving door has developed at first in the past several weeks: T-Mac began the season at first, and made some defensive gems as he quickly established himself as a premier GBL bag man. Injuries to Sean Smith moved him into left field, and the Seals have essentially been playing without a true first baseman since then, using the position to keep hot hitters in the lineup (another side-effect caused by this year's lack of a DH). Shane Cronin, Josh Arhart, and most recently Matt Kavanaugh have been rotating at first.

Look for Orr to get a few starts at the bag over the next little while, with Kavanaugh on a 5/28 slump over his last eight games. Orr needs to show some spark at the plate to keep himself in the lineup though, as the last thing the Seals need is another sub-par performer at the plate.

Signed in time to make the trip to Calgary, Kyle pinch-hit in the eighth inning Friday, and struck out swinging on three pitches. The Seals scored a run in the top of the ninth to take the first game of their short road trip to Calgary 3-2, behind a fabulous game by starter Jino Gonzalez. The Seals are now 5-5 in their last ten games.

Friday, June 25, 2010

DUST (Darth's Useless Stupid Trivia)

A quick serving of unrelated food for thought:

1) The Number 10 - I believe that 10 runs is a magic number in the GBL. I maintain that it is a threshold of runs that every team should strive hard to achieve offensively and protect defensively as much as possible. Al McGuire used to say that 17 was a magic number in basketball and if a team got up by 17, the game was over, no matter what happened the rest of the way. I believe the same is true for 10 runs in this rock 'em sock 'em league.

So far this year, teams have scored 10 runs a total of 54 times and this has produced 49 wins. In other words, only five times has a team scored 10 runs and lost. Only Tijuana has not scored 10 runs in a single game this year (hmmm...look where they are), followed by the Seals with three games (one being a loss). Conversely, the top two teams in each division - Maui, Yuma, Calgary and Chico - have done it a combined 26 times (all for wins).

2) Producing Leaders - A while back, we collectively implored the Seals' team leaders to start producing and good things would happen. I consider the team leaders (by example and by seniority) to be T-Mac, Brian "Inky" Rios and Josh Arrrrrharrrrt. If you look at their recent four games, these Three Amigos are a scorching 22-for-44 (.500) with Inky leading the way at 9-for-14 (.643). My call is that if they keep this up, pitching remains decent and you add in the team chemistry that was created by the "Scrap at the RAP", this team is on its way a big way.

3) Daniel Nava - Talk about a debut in the show...this ex-GBL-er stepped up to the plate for his first ever MLB at bat for the Red Sox a couple of weeks ago, and crushed the first pitch he saw - a Joe Blanton offering - for a grand slam. This is only the second time that a player has hit the first pitch he ever faced in the majors for a Gland Slam. As well, he is now one of only four big leaguers to ever get a Slam in his first MLB at bat. Nava started his career playing for the Chico Outlaws in 2007 where the Red Sox bought his contract for $1 (yes, 100 cents!). Better than a Mc-value meal at Rotten Ronnie's! This remains his only homer in 11 games, but he is hitting .350 so keep your eye on this guy, he is going places.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Say g'day to P.J. Bevis

Last weekend the Seals signed reliever P.J. Bevis, a 30-year-old native of Brisbane, Australia. Let's take a closer look at one of the newest Seals.

P.J. ("Peter Jon") was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Arizona Diamonbacks in 1998. He spent eight years in affiliated baseball with the Diamondbacks, Mets and Rockies organizations. Initially, he looked like a solid prospect and he had a lot of success at the AA level, posting a 3.42 ERA over 5 seasons there. But Bevis struggled at the AAA level and was eventually released by the Colorado Rockies in 2005.

After taking the 2006 season off, he decided to give independent baseball a try. Bevis spent the last three seasons playing independent baseball in three different leagues and he was a teammate of Aaron Easton in 2009 with the Edmonton Capitals. Bevis had a 5.84 ERA with the Capitals last year in spite of the fact that he only gave up 2.2 walks per nine innings. His excellent control is obviously one of his biggest assets, but he also has a good fastball and a nice sweeping "12-to-6" curve ball.

Last year, his strikeouts dropped off to only 5.1 strikeouts per nine innings, but he had 6.9 K’s per nine in 2008 with the Calgary Vipers. Early in his career, Bevis was a strikeout pitcher. For instance, in 5 AA seasons he struck out 244 batters in 228 innings. He has been used as a short man so far by the Seals and he has already registered a save. He has been dominant at times for Victoria – he has given up one walk and eight strikeouts in his first 4 2/3 innings with the team. If Villafuerte’s recent struggles were to continue, Bevis could take over as the Seals' closer. In fact, that may have already happened given how Villafuerte has been used of late.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Seal Blubber Bits - Food Poisoning Edition

With the Vipers in town and now recovered from their bout of food poisoning, we offer up these tasty Seal Blubber Bits. Sit down and enjoy -- but for safety's sake, don't drink the Tijuana water.
  • In the second game of Tuesday's double-header, Calgary first baseman Brent Metheny got a base hit in the first inning and then called time and wandered towards the Calgary dugout. A few feet in front of the dugout, Metheny doubled over and tossed his cookies on the Royal Athletic Park grass. Mercifully, Calgary manager Morgan Burkhart sent Matt Edgecombe out to replace him and Metheny took a seat on the Calgary bench.
  • In Wednesday's game, won 6-5 by the Vipers, Seymour Seal added some comic relief by going up to home plate umpire Ian Lamplugh and getting him to sign a copy of the Globe and Mail piece written by Tom Hawthorn that describes the ups and downs of Lamplugh's career. Then Seamore walked down the first base line showing everyone a copy of the sports page containing the article -- titled "Kill the Umpire".
  • The more I see Aaron Easton, the more I like him. On Wednesday night, Easton came on in the sixth inning with the bases loaded and one out. He promptly struck out a pair of batters to end the threat and bail out Jason Kershner. The next inning, with a runner on first and one out, Jonny Kaplan hit what looked like a double-play ball right at Charlie Strandlund, but Strandlund booted it to put a pair of runners on. Easton didn't let it bother him and retired the next two batters to end the inning and keep the Seals in the game. After the players got into the dugout, Easton went right over to Strandlund and told him that it was no big deal. Classy guy, that Aaron Easton.
  • Wilver Perez and and Kip Gross have now sat out their three-game suspensions and can return to action on Thursday night at RAP.
  • Brian Rios has hits in 11 of his last 12 games and he is hitting .429 in that span.
  • Dale "Swinny" Swinford has stolen bases in five of his last seven games and is hitting .423 in those seven games.
  • The Knuckle Princess, Eri Yoshida, gets her third start of the season on Thursday night for the Chico Outlaws.  She'll face the Edmonton Capitals in front of her home crowd. Yoshida has a 6.43 ERA in her two starts.
  • After tomorrow's series finale, the Seals play another three games in Calgary on Friday and Saturday before getting a rare three consecutive days off. Victoria then kicks off a five-game series against the Tijuana Cimarrones on Wednesday June 30th. Highlights of the home stand include Fireworks Night on the 30th and a Canada Day matinĂ©e next Thursday.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Is Mike Mooney for real?

On Friday night, the Seals surprised many of their fans at Royal Athletic Park by starting the newly-signed Mike Mooney in centre field instead of Chris Van Rossum. Mooney went on to hit .455 with two homers and five RBIs on the weekend and he added some much-needed punch to the heart of the Victoria batting order. But who is Mike Mooney and is he likely to keep it up?

Mooney is a 27-year-old Californian who spent seven seasons in the San Francisco Giants organization after being drafted in the 16th round of the 2003 draft. His pro career got off to a great start, as he was named to the All-Star team in three leagues in his first two years in the Giants organization. He posted some great numbers in Rookie and low A ball, but he had difficulty at the higher levels and he only has a career .239 batting average in AA. He went on to appear in 20 games at the AAA level and posted a .236 batting average there. 

After a sub-par 2009 season in which Mooney hit only .253 for the Connecticut Defenders of the (AA) Eastern League, he was released by the Giants.  He started the 2010 season with the Schaumburg Flyers in the independent Northern League, but came to Victoria when the Seals ran into difficulty scoring runs and had an opening for an offensive sparkplug. In 23 games with the Flyers, Mooney hit .244 with 3 homers and 8 RBIs in 86 at-bats. He also stole three bases in three attempts.

It’s obvious that he has very good speed, judging by the career-high 38 stolen bases that he swiped for the Augusta GreenJackets of the South Atlantic League in 2006. As he showed Seals fans on the weekend, he also has some pop in his bat. Mooney’s career high for round-trippers is only 12 in a season, but he is capable of piling up the extra-base hits and knocking in a bunch of runs. We should temper our expectations though, because he may not hit for a high average (at least in GBL terms) and he typically strikes out a lot more often than he walks. If all goes well though, the Seals will have a solid run-producer in the middle of their line-up.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Series preview - Calgary Vipers v2.0

UPDATE: Game 1 (Monday's game) against the Vipers has been POSTPONED due to food poisoning issues on the Vipers. Tomorrow will see a double-header start at 6:05, second game likely around 8:30.

Here come the Vipers for the second time this month, as they land for 4 games against the Seals Monday through Thursday (all games 7:05 starts). As if that's not enough, they then hit the road for 3 more games in Calgary. This 7-pak of games against this really good team from Cowtown could be a tough stretch for the Seals...

Tale of the Tape

The Vipers have begun to show their dominant side this year, winning 10 of their last 12 games (including 5 games againt the Seals in that span) and sit at 17-8, a game and a half behind Chico in second place in the North division.

Despite taking 2 of 3 from Edmonton, the Seals remain in fourth place in the North division, eleven games back of Chico, and just a game ahead of St. George for last place.

Who's Hot - Vipers

Well the whole team is hot actually, averaging over 11 runs per game over their last five. Drew Miller continues to be a force at the plate, banging home 11 runs while batting .417 over the last week. Vipers Jonny Caplan and Caonabo Cosme have also come alive, batting .400 and .429 respectively in their last 7. Team batting average sits at .303 for the year, .341 over their recent winning streak.

Who's Hot - Seals

New guy Mike Mooney is taking the city by storm, batting an impressive .455 with 2 home runs and 5 RBI in his first 5 games. Brian Rios (.417) and Dale Swinford (.400) are also riding hot streaks at the plate over the past week.

Wilver Perez is really struggling of late, mired in a 2 for 21 slump. He had more hits against Matt Rogelstad at second base on Saturday night than he's had in his last 8 games at the plate.

On the pitching side, despite the mounting losses, the Seals have actually been pretty good on the mound. Andrew Arreola, Arron Easton and P.J. Bevis have all shown signs of brilliance coming out of the pen, giving up only 2 earned runs in 10 1/3 innings of relief.

Keys to the Series

This will be an interesting series to watch. Can the Seals build on the team momentum gained in the Edmonton series? Can Wilver Perez get fired up from his donnybrook on Saturday night? Can Mike Mooney continue to help the team at the plate? Can the bullpen remain stingy?

Series Prediction

You have to walk before you run. While I'd love to suggest the Seals will do all those things, I can't help but feel the Vipers are a bit stronger at the plate than Seals pitching can handle. With Mo Mentum on the team however, anything is possible. I'll go for a home series split against Calgary, with each team winning 2. We'll see how that turns out before predicting the road three...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Video of Saturday's bench-clearing brawl

Here it is... notice how quickly Brian Rios gets involved in the action.

Extra-special Fathers Day at RAP, and elsewhere...

Well I had every intention of spending fathers Day basking in the sun at RAP watching the Seals take game 3 of the home-stand, but alas different plans arose. I spent the afternoon watching my own daughter win bronze at the Pee-Wee C district championships at View Royal. A proud moment as a father on a special day.

Fathers Day also seems to agree with the Victoria Seals. If you remember last year, the Seals walked off with a victory on a dramatic home run by Jamar Hill, and it became one of the defining moments of the Seal's first year in Victoria. This year's dramatic extra-inning walk off home run by newcomer Mike Mooney seems like a similar kind of moment that a team can use as a catalyst to turn things around with.

Could this home stand - from the desperate hang-on victory Friday, through the disappointing loss and bench clearing brawl on Saturday, to the extra inning magic on Sunday - be the turning point for the Seals this year? Three games that bring a team together on an emotional level that bonds them for the rest of the season.

A few comments from yesterday's game seem to point to a more urgent sense of team pride, a desire to win at all cost, and a recognition of the team being bonded together. The capacity crowd saw a great game as well, and many were heard leaving with plans of coming back in the coming weeks.

I look to this weekend as being that turning point the team was in need of. Some new blood in Mike Mooney, a new found camaraderie on the team, and a new batch of impressed fans. Sounds like a recipe for future success for the Seals...

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Caps bottle up the Seals

Now here's an ugly line... 0 runs, 4 hits, 2 errors, 6 men left on base. Tough to pull out a victory with those numbers...

The Capitals rode some rock solid starting and relief pitching from Alexander Francisco and Yosandy Ibanez to an 8-0 thumping of the Seals Saturday evening at Royal Athletic. Caps first baseman Tom Collaro was a one-man wrecking crew, matching the Seals team with 4 hits of his own, while driving in 5 runs with a pair of home runs.

Seals starter Jeff Duda was unable to build upon the success he had in his previous start, and lasted only 3 1/3 innings giving up the first 5 runs of the game. Newcomer Mike Mooney, who thrilled the home crowd with his 3 for 4, 1 HR game on Friday, ended up 0 for 3 with 2 Ks.

The Seals hope to sleep this one off, and return to the park for the Father's Day rubber match Sunday afternoon at 1:30.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Seals wake up the lumber

Now THAT's more like it! In what was a solid effort all around, the Seals took control of tonight's game early and never looked back, defeating the Edmonton Capitals 12-9. Jason Kershner took a no-hitter into the 7th but a couple of hits, including a 3 run shot by the pitcher (yes, the pitcher) Mike Hrynio, put an end to his night. Actually, Hrynio is a very good hitter, coming in with a .444 average and going 2 for 2 with 4 RBIs. It was an interesting pitching performance by the "Kersh", as there were runners aboard pretty much every inning but he managed to stay out of trouble until the 7th and by that time the offense had already put up an 8 run...what do you call those things...oh yeah, LEAD!

It was a true team effort, with all positions players except Matt Kavanaugh (and he is excused for his recently hot bat) getting at least one hit. And who the heck is Mike Mooney? Well, as long as he is with us, I don't care! Mooney batted 5th and jump-started the offense with a 3-run blast in the first and looked solid patrolling centre field. He went 3 for 4 at the plate and scored twice himself; a nice addition.

In a beautiful Victoria evening (finally!), it was a game of longball with T-Mac, Mooney, Arhart (who went 4-4) and Rios all hammering round trippers. The Caps made it interesting in the late going scoring 9 runs in the 7th and 8th, but Brandon Villafuerte did just enough to preserve the win. Hopefully this shows the winning way, and if the hitting picks up pitching and vice versa, many wins will follow.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Bring on the Caps...again

Coming in to the weekend series with the Edmonton Capitals, we have 2 teams going in opposite directions. After a solid start, the Seals have lost 14 of their last 15 games while the Capitals stumbled out to a 3-8 start only to have now won 7 of the last 8 (including 3 in a row over the Seals). While the Victoria pitching seems to be coming around, the lumber is still sleeping. In Capital City, Edmonton seems to be playing just well enough on both sides of the field to keep Victoria at bay. The Seals have done some recent lineup juggling to get he boys going, but nothing seems to be working at the moment. I think it is time I bring my lucky cow's tooth to the game.

Tale of the Tape

Victoria Seals 7-16 .400 (owners of the "wooden spoon" in the North), .247 team batting average, 6.03 team ERA
Edmonton Capitals 13-10 .545 (third place in the North), .265 team batting average, 4.41 team ERA

Who's Hot/Who's not - Caps

The Caps have a couple of hitters who have really found their stride. Ryan Stevensen and Tom Collaro are both hitting above .500 over the past 6 games. Stevensen - who bats leadoff - has added 8 walks in that time period to register a staggering .773 on base percentage. Seals pitchers need to limit their BB's or it will make for some long games. Like the Seals, starting pitching has been a forte for Edmonton over the past few games. Chris Little and Clinton Nageotte have had a couple of solid starts and opposing teams have struggled against this staff recently.

Josh Tarnow is only hitting .182 over the past week and he is joined by Eric McNamee who sits at .200 during that span. Both bat deep in the order but if they keep it up, they could make for some nice 1-2-3 innings (combined with the pitcher) for the hungry Seals staff.

Who's Hot/Who's Not - Seals

Colin Moro and Brian Rios are starting to produce consistently at the plate as well as Matt Kavanaugh who is en fuego right now and smacking the ball everywhere. Kavanaugh is hitting .500 over the last 6 games. The Seals have to keep him in the lineup no matter what - catcher, 1st base, rover, whatever it takes. On the pitching side of things, the entire staff seem to be turning it around with some quality starts and good relief. The team ERA is slightly inflated due to the earlier losing streak but they need to hold the course while the rest of the crew wakes up at the plate.

On the down side, Chris Van Rossum has to get it going but he is not the only culprit with sluggish wood. Over the past 6 games, the combined average for Wilver Perez, Josh Arhart and T-Mac sits at a sub-Mendoza-like .080. All have proven they are big contributors in the past and it's time to step it up.

Keys to the Series

The Seals need to keep up the good pitching and get that sometimes too-elusive 3rd out. They have not been making many errors of late, but the ones they do make seem to be costly so that also needs to stop. On offense, we've over-talked about it but they have to get hits - and not just 10+ hits a game but clutch hits with runners in scoring position. Let's chase the starters early and rack up a few runs while improving confidence. Does anyone know a charm or spell we can cast on the Seals bats? Any wicken out there?

Also, I look for some veteran leadership. Rios is swinging a good bat and I'd like to see Wilver turn it up a notch too. While not hitting that great for average, Josh Arhart has shown signs of RBI-life and we need that to keep improving. Show the way boys, show the way!


Expect a weekend of good pitching and probably low-scoring games. If the Seals can break the funk though and score a few runs, I see good times ahead. My heart is telling me that the boys will turn it around and start getting some breaks but my head is reminding my heart how many times it has screwed up before (and how much money it has cost me!) and tells me to pick the Seals going 1-2. I think if the pitching hangs in there and the sticks wake up though, it could easily be 2-1 or even 3-0 for the Seals and hopefully the start of a season turnaround.

See you at the yard.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Caps sweep the Seals

Wednesday night marked the end of another forgettable road trip as the Edmonton Capitals defeated the Seals 5-4 to sweep their three-game series. Victoria lost four of their five games on their Alberta trip.

Antony Pluta got his first start since 2006 on Wednesday night and he managed to get through five innings with only giving up four earned runs. The normally wild Pluta only walked one batter and struck out five, but he was knocked around for 11 hits. Aaron Easton gave up one run in an inning of work and he took the loss to drop to 2-2. Chris Bodishbaugh gave Victoria a chance to come back by pitching two scoreless innings to finish the game, but the team couldn't manufacture a come-from-behind victory.

The Seals only managed eight hits on the night. Dale Swinford, Colin Moro and the red-hot Matt Kavanaugh had six of those eight hits. Anthony Pluta was 1-for-2 at the plate to raise his batting average to .750 on the season (he only has four at-bats though).

Chris Van Rossum had an 0-for-4 night to drop his batting average to .208 and his on-base percentage to .244. For a hitter's league like the GBL, those numbers just don't cut it. In fact, the Seals pitchers have almost an identical batting average to Van Rossum's -- they are hitting .205 as a group. Sadly, the Victoria pitchers have walked a lot more frequently than Van Rossum, so they collectively have a better on-base percentage. I don't mean to pick on Chris, but he may find himself on the bench when Sean Smith returns -- possibly as early as Friday night.

Victoria has now lost 14 of its last 15 games. They take to the field at RAP on Friday night to start a seven-game home stand. Hopefully the weather will co-operate and the fans will come out in bigger numbers. But given their record of late...

National League All Stars

From its inception, this blog has been strictly limited to covering the Victoria Seals and stories on the Golden Baseball League that might be of interest to Seals fans. This post will break from tradition so that we can fulfill our duty to the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and make our selections for the National League All-Star team.

I have always liked the idea of selecting players who are having great seasons over established stars who are having bad seasons. However, I'm wary of selecting players who might be "flash in the pans" or those who haven't paid their dues. With that in mind, here are my All-Star selections for the National League (current position in fan voting in brackets):
  • 1st Base - Albert Pujols STL (1) - .309 BA 15 HR 49 RBI 6 SB 38 R
  • 2nd Base - Martin Prado ATL (2) - .333 BA 6 HR 29 RBI 1 SB 47 R
  • 3rd Base - David Wright NY (2) - .293 BA 12 HR 50 RBI 11 SB 33 R
  • Shortstop - Troy Tulowitzki COL (3) - .306 BA 9 HR 33 RBI 7 SB 45 R
  • Catcher - Brian McCann ATL (2) - .261 BA 6 HR 27 RBI 3 SB 29 R
  • Outfielder - Ryan Braun MIL (1) - .304 BA 10 HR 45 RBI 11 SB 44 R
  • Outfielder - Andre Ethier LA (3) - .339 BA 11 HR 40 RBI 1 SB 31 R
  • Outfielder - Jason Werth PHI (4) - .281 BA 10 HR 39 RBI 4 SB 35 R
  • Starting Pitcher - Ubaldo Jimenez COL (N/A) - 12 wins, 1.16 ERA, 0.98 WHIP
There are a few selections that may generate some debate. For instance, taking Prado at second base over Chase Utley, due to the fact that Prado is out-hitting him by 73 points (.333 vs .260). Or how about my selection at short of Tulowitzki over Hanley Ramirez and the injured Jimmy Rollins? I'll give Tulowitzki the nod over Ramirez due to a better batting average (16 point difference) and the extra 10 runs that he has scored. I also left rookie Jason Heyward off the team due to his .268 batting average and the fact he hasn't proven himself over a full season yet.

Leave a comment to this post if you would like to share your selections.

The Baseball Bloggers Alliance will be issuing a press release around July 1st with the voting results from our members.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Seals extend latest losing streak to three games

The Victoria Seals have now lost 13 of their last 14 games after dropping a 7-5 decision to the Edmonton Capitals on Tuesday night. This time the culprits were shaky pitching and a lack of clutch hitting. The Seals outhit the Capitals 13-8 in the game, but they couldn't get the big hit when they needed it and they stranded 11 base runners.

Starter Kyle Wilson had his third consecutive horrible start, giving up four earned runs on three hits and four walks in 1 2/3 innings pitched. He has now given up 20 earned runs in his last 9 innings pitched and his ERA for the year stands at 10.29. Needless to say, his future with the club is uncertain.

On the positive side, Andrew Arreola (pictured here) did a great job giving the Seals a chance to get back into the game. He pitched 4 1/3 innings of scoreless baseball to lower his ERA to 4.05. Aaron "Handyman" Easton also chipped in with a perfect inning of relief.

Matt Kavanaugh continues to swing a hot stick. His three hits raised his average to .290. Terrence McClain (2 hits), Colin Moro (2 hits), Brian Rios (3 hits) and Shane Cronin (1 pinch hit) all raised their averages over the .300 mark on the season. Chris Van Rossum also hit his fourth homer of the year.

The Seals hope to salvage the final game of the Edmonton series tomorrow night. Game time is 6 PM PST. Victoria then returns to Royal Athletic Park to start a seven-game home stand on Friday night.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Seals pitching solid again. Defense? Not so much.

The Victoria Seals got their third consecutive quality start on Monday night, but it wasn't enough to gain the victory over the Edmonton Capitals. Edmonton scored a pair of late runs to defeat the Seals 3-2. Jino Gonzalez pitched his best game of the year, giving up only six hits and two earned runs in 7 1/3 innings of work. He lowered his ERA to 5.81, but he was tagged with the loss and his record dropped to 0-4.

First baseman (!) Matt Kavanaugh hit his second career home run in 272 professional at-bats. Kavanaugh's blast, a two-run shot, gave Victoria a 2-0 lead in the third inning. That lead held up until the 8th inning when Brian Rios made a costly error on a ground ball by Alex Chavez to allow the tying run to score. Chavez would score the winning run later in that inning. The error was Rios' fifth of the season and he now sports an .886 fielding percentage. In all of last season, Rios only made eight errors and had a .938 fielding percentage.

The only Seal to register more than one hit on Monday night was Jino Gonzalez, who went 2-for-3 against Edmonton starter Lou Pote. Victoria could only manage six hits on the night and their team batting average dropped to a league-low .243. Dale Swinford, who is hitting .326, is now the only regular on the Victoria squad that is hitting over .300.

Victoria's record is now 7 wins and 13 losses and the team is 9 games back of the first-place Chico Outlaws. But there is no need to despair -- every team's record gets reset to 0-0 on the 12th of July when the GBL pauses for their All Star break. The Seals can still make the playoffs by winning the second-half title in the North Division.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Seals waste stellar debut from Jeff Duda

The Victoria Seals fell 1-0 to the Calgary Vipers on Sunday afternoon and failed to capitalize on the best start from a Seals pitcher this season. Jeff Duda, in his first professional game, pitched seven scoreless innings and only gave up three hits. He walked just one and struck out an impressive seven batters.

The 24-year-old Duda was signed a few days ago by the Seals and it was unclear if he would make much of an impact on their beleaguered pitching staff. Any doubt was removed today, as the 2009 Pitcher of the Year for the Okotoks Dawgs was dominant in his debut. Let's hope he can keep it up.

Aaron Easton pitched a scoreless eighth inning, but Andrew Arreola gave up a walk-off homer to the first batter he faced in the bottom of the ninth (Julio Ramirez). Arreola's ERA has now jumped to 5.17 on the year.

Sadly, the Seals offence could only muster five hits against the Vipers on Sunday and their team batting average has dropped to a league-low .245.

Seal Blubber Bits
  • The Seals play a three-game series against the Capitals in Edmonton starting on Monday night at 6 PM PST.
  • Sean Smith stayed behind in Victoria and did not accompany the Seals on their Alberta road trip. The team hopes to be able to activate him in time for next weekend's series against the Edmonton Capitals at Royal Athletic Park.
  • Matt Kavanaugh was the only Seal to register a pair of hits on Sunday, but that was only good enough to raise his batting average to .217 on the season.
  • Chris Van Rossum went 0-for-4 on Sunday to drop his average to .231. When Sean Smith is activated, it's within the realm of possibility that Shane Cronin (1B) and Terrence McClain (LF) could stay where they are and Smith could take Van Rossum's spot in centre.
  • The Seals are now in last place in the North Division with a 7-13 record. Only the expansion Tijuana Cimarrones have a worse record (2-17). 

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The streak is over! Seals win 8-6 in Calgary

The Victoria Seals snapped their 10-game losing streak on Saturday night by defeating the Calgary Vipers 8-6 at Foothills Stadium. Colin Moro led the offensive attack with two hits and a pair of RBIs and runs scored in his first game back in his old stomping grounds. Starter Jason Kershner got the win to even his record at 2-2. "Kersh" held the Vipers to three runs in six innings of work.

The Seals trailed 3-0 entering the top of the sixth inning, but they scored four runs in that frame to take the lead for good. Brandon Villafuerte picked up his fourth save of the year by pitching the last 1 2/3 innings.

The Seals take on the Vipers in the final game of their two-game series on Sunday afternoon. Aaron Trolia (0-2, 5.95 ERA) gets the start for Victoria.

Seal Blubber Bits
  • Eri Yoshida had her second start of the season on Saturday night and she had a lot more success than in her GBL debut. On Saturday, Yoshida held the powerful Yuma Scorpions to only four hits and one earned run in four innings pitched in an 8-4 Chico victory. She walked two and struck out her first GBL hitter -- Timothy Rodriguez -- in a three-pitch at-bat. Rodriguez took the first two pitches for strikes before swinging and missing on her third offering. Rodriguez bats third for Yuma and is hitting .361 on the year. Yoshida lowered her ERA to 6.43 on the season, which is better than the ERA of three pitchers on the Victoria Seals pitching staff.
  • Rumours were floating around recently that the Yuma Scorpions might be moving to Mexicali, Mexico. The GBL denies that a move is afoot. However, the CEO of the league, Dave Kaval, has admitted that the Scorpions may shift some of their games to Mexicali this season. Yuma is averaging only 1,303 fans through its first 16 home games.
  • Tom Hawthorn penned an interesting article in the Globe and Mail on umpire Ian Lamplugh. Lamplugh worked some of the Victoria Seals games last year and will likely do some more games in 2010. Thanks to our reader Tyler for pointing us to the piece.
  • Ex-Seal Austin Bibens-Dirkx recovered from a rough outing on June 6th to pitch a strong game on Friday night. His record is now 5-2 with a 3.00 ERA and an sparkling 0.92 WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched).
  • Seals alumnus Isaac Hess continues to get roughed up in his starts for the Guerreros de Oaxaca in the AAA Mexican League. Hess now has a 3-3 record and a 5.59 ERA. In his last six starts, Hess has lasted no more than 5 1/3 innings and has failed to reach the fourth inning in three of those games.
  • Two GBL players were signed to big-league contracts in the last week. Lee Cruz of Yuma was signed by the Houston Astros after hitting .433 to start the season. Ben Johnson of the Orange County Flyers was signed by the Detroit Tigers after hitting .405 in the early going.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Seals still 0-for-June

When I was a kid, I spent many a night listening to the dulcet tones of Dave Van Horne and Duke Snider broadcasting the games of my beloved Expos. Believe me, those guys could tell some tales. I remember Van Horne telling the story of the Expos' epic 20-game losing streak in 1969 on more than one occasion (I was too young in 1969 to remember it myself). As the story goes, Van Horne made it a habit in the early years of the team to end the broadcast of a loss with the phrase "Well, you can't win 'em all". He used the phrase 20 straight times from May 13th to June 7th of their inaugural season. But on June 8th, the Expos eeked out a 4-3 win at Dodger Stadium thanks to home runs by Rusty Staub and Mack Jones. After the game, Van Horne cheekily ended the broadcast with the phrase "Well, you can't lose 'em all."

Let's hope the Victoria Seals aren't headed for the same fate, but they're half-way there after they lost their tenth consecutive game on Thursday night, 12-10 to the Calgary Vipers.

The top of the eight inning summed up their season so far. After taking a 9-7 lead in the bottom of the seventh, the Seals sent Andrew Arreola back out for his second inning of work. Arreola started the inning by plunking Luis Taveras. After getting the first out, he then served up a two-run homer to Dillon O'Krane to tie the game up. Then Wilver Perez booted a routine grounder, but luckily for Perez the runner was thrown out attempting to steal second by Josh Arhart. With two outs and nobody on, Arreola walked both Jorge Mejia and Matt Edgecombe, which forced Kip Gross to make a pitching change. Anthony "Nuke Laloosh" Pluta came in and promptly threw two wild pitches to give the Vipers a 10-9 lead. Pluta then walked a batter before giving up a single to Drew Miller to score a pair of runners and make the score 12-9. For all intents and purposes, it was game over.

Oh well, you can't win 'em all.

Seal Blubber Bits
  • The Seals released reliever Nick Martin (16.62 ERA) and signed pitcher Jeff Duda. Duda is from Surrey B.C., so he joins fellow-Canadians Colin Moro and Charlie Strandlund on the squad. Duda pitched for the Okotoks Dawgs of the Western Major Baseball League.
  • Josh Arhart hit a pair of round-trippers on Thursday night and had five RBIs to pace the Victoria attack. He came within a few feet of tying the game in the bottom of the ninth, but his long fly ball was caught at the base of the wall in left-centre field.
  • The Seals were the first team to get to Calgary starter Erik Dessau this season. They scored five earned runs in five innings to raise his ERA from 0.60 to 2.70.
  • The Seals play the Vipers in Calgary on Saturday and Sunday night before moving on to Edmonton for a three-game series. The Seals then return to Royal Athletic Park for a seven-game home stand starting on June 18th. 
  • Although the crowd was reported to be 2,810 on Thursday night, those numbers seemed incredibly optimistic.  The crowd was fairly sparse, but there were more fans in attendance than on Tuesday or Wednesday nights. The biggest reason for the increased attendance was the large number of American sailors at the ballpark.
  • The Seals are averaging 1,815 fans through their first 11 openings (there was one double-header amongst their 12 home games). This is less than the league average of 2,091 fans per game and well below Victoria's average of 2,342 last season. Hopefully, we'll get some better weather for the remainder of the season and the fans will come out to support the team like they did in 2009.

Musical introductions

Music soothes the savage beast, and it also introduces baseball players as they come to the plate. The Seals have an eclectic mix of tunes but none more "ear-catching" than that of Terrance McClain. Does anyone know what the heck the name and artist is of that song? "Ooooooooo... ".

I like Chris Van Rossum's choice too (I believe they pick their own music at the start of the year) - nothing like a little John Denver to get the crowd clapping their hands...especially when there is a pitching change and we get to hear the whole song. It sure will be interesting when they change pitchers and T-Mac is up.

I think I would choose a little Ozzy...maybe Paranoid or (at the risk of being cliche) even Crazy Train - something with a unique sound that most people recognize and wake up when they hear it. Or maybe "The Message" from Grand Master Flash or "Fight For Your Right" by the Beastie Boys which both have great openings. At the game last night, in between over-used sound bites of Homer's famous "Woo Hoo", I think I heard some people beside me say they would select "Man, I Feel Like a Woman" by Shania or even "Canadian Idiot" by Weird Al (who already gets play time every game at the Subway sandwich races).

I'm just sayin'...

Editor's Note: T-Mac's song is "Story of my life" by Akon/Billy Blue. You can listen to the full song below.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Well, they only played 8 innings thanks to the damp sunshine of the Left Coast, but the result was the same as the Seals ran their franchise high losing streak to 8 games with a 5-2 loss to the Calgary Vipers. The game was washed out at the start of the 9th inning when Brandon Villafuerte had some difficulty getting his footing on the already makeshift mound. The start of the game was delayed by 15 minutes or so as the Victoria grounds crew (a.k.a. the pitchers, led by Aaron "Handyman" Easton) had to fix up a poorly prepared mound. It must have surprised the city that the Seals were back in town.

In a slow-moving game, the Vipers consistently put up a run here and a run there, and Victoria threatened many times but couldn't get that breakthrough hit. They loaded the bases in the 8th when Matt Kavanaugh hit the ball hard and deep but it ended up being just another F8. No team scored more than a single run in any inning; the Vipers just did it 3 more times than the Seals.

Once again, the hits were fairly even at 6-5 in favour of Calgary, but the Vipers were just that much more efficient and were also aided by 2 Seals errors. The home crowd was sparse for the first game of a homestand, but vocal in their attempts to "r-a-t-t-l-e" the opposing pitchers. Let's hope that support picks up.

One thing I did notice was that the Seals seemed to have a casual air about them sharing lots of smiles and banter with the Vipers players, which doesn't sound like a team that is on a 7 game skid. I'm all for being relaxed, but a little intensity would be a good thing right now. I was actually glad to see Chris Van Rossum throw a bit of a fit in the dugout after popping up at an inopportune time. Let's see some more of that! Come on in the belly! Eye of the Tiger and all that! Don't make me request it over the P.A. system!

Seal Blubber Bits
  • 6 different players from Calgary had a single hit and only 1 Seal had a multi-hit game. Terrance McClain had a terrific game going 3 for 4 and swiping 2 bases with amazing jumps on both pitches, not even having to dirty his uniform once.
  • Shane Cronin had a great game at the dish going 0 for 0 but drawing walks on 4 very good at bats
  • Sean Smith was nowhere to be seen tonight as T-Mac was patrolling left field. Injured? Maybe, but why wasn't he on the bench? Shipped out? Always a possibility given the woes of late.
  • The Seals sported camo-type hats today marking the start of Sea Dog Days to honour the Canadian Navy. Nice touch!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Vipers-Seals series preview

After getting swept on their six-game road trip, the Seals return home to Royal Athletic Park to play a three-game series against the Calgary Vipers starting Tuesday night at 7 PM.

The Vipers, who are the defending GBL champions, completely overhauled their roster in the off-season. Colin Moro played for the Vipers last year, but he won’t recognize most of the Calgary team when he takes to the field Tuesday night. It was expected that the loss of so many outstanding players would mean that Calgary would be a less-than-stellar squad in 2010, but that has not been the case. Credit must be given to the Vipers front office for bringing in so much new talent. Last year’s version of the Vipers was dominant offensively, but had one of the weaker pitching staffs in the league. While their pitching remains questionable (7th best in a 10-team league), their hitting remains solid (tied for third best in the GBL). Unlike the Seals, the Vipers play station-to-station baseball and don’t attempt to steal very often. In fact, Seals left fielder Sean Smith has 50% more steals than the entire Calgary team combined.

Tale of the Tape

Victoria Seals 6-9 .400 (Tied for 3rd in North Division), .246 batting average, 6.38 team ERA
Calgary Vipers 9-5 .643 (2nd in North Division), .299 batting average, 5.76 team ERA

Who’s Hot (on the Vipers)

One of the few returning stars from 2009, Drew Miller, is eighth in the league in hitting with a .400 average. Centre fielder Julio Ramirez is hitting .391 with four homers and 13 RBI. He played in 84 big-league games and last appeared in the majors in 2005 with the San Francisco Giants. First baseman Matt Edgecombe has a .368 average with one homer and 12 RBIs.

Erik Dessau (2-0) is leading the league with a 0.60 ERA and he’ll likely take to the mound on Wednesday or Thursday night at RAP. He was with the Vipers last year, but he posted a malodorous 6.78 ERA. Reliever Claudio Galva was just signed on May 30th and he has been on fire since joining the club. Galva, who played as high as AAA in the Oakland A’s organization, has limited opponents to a .167 batting average in five innings of relief.

Who’s Not (on the Vipers)

Calgary’s former pitching ace, Joe Sergent has fallen on hard times. He sports an ERA of 11.57 in his four starts, but he is unlikely to see action at RAP this week. Coanabo Cosme hit .387 last year, but he only has a .244 average so far in 2010. He knocked in three runs on Sunday afternoon though, so don’t be surprised if Cosme does some damage against the Seals.

Likely Starters for Victoria

If Kip Gross keeps his usual rotation, we’ll likely see Jino Gonzalez, Aaron Trolia and Chris Bodisbaugh (in that order) in the three games against Calgary. However, it’s possible that Kyle Wilson could get the Thursday night start. But given how things have gone recently, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Charlie Strandlund get a start.

Keys to the Series

It’s really quite simple: Can the Victoria Seals come out of their horrendous tailspin? If they play like they did on their six-game road trip, the Vipers will sweep this series easily. If the Seals play like they did on their first home stand then we’re in for quite a tilt.

In light of their current seven-game losing streak, there’s no shortage of Seals to point the finger at. On the hitting side, only Colin Moro and Terrence McClain are off to great starts. Sean Smith is batting an anemic .136 in the leadoff position (but to his credit he has walked six times in his last four games). Josh Arhart is hitting a pedestrian .256 with only two RBIs on the season (he hit .325 with 52 RBIs last year). Wilver Perez has a meagre .250 average with only 3 RBIs (he hit .330 in 2009). Brian Rios is batting a respectable .293, but he only has three RBIs in 2010. These guys have got to start producing.

Pitching wise, the entire starting rotation is in a funk. None of the five starters have an ERA under 5.56. In the bullpen, only Brandon Villafuerte (1.13 ERA), Andrew Arreola (1.50 ERA) and Anthony Pluta (2.35 ERA) are off to good starts. The other seven pitchers need to pull up their socks – and fast.


This is a tough call, but I’ll predict that the Vipers will win two of three due to the fact that the red-hot Erik Dessau will start one of the games for Calgary. However, I hope I’m dead wrong and the Seals return to their winning ways at RAP.

Editor's Note: Joe Sergent has been placed on the Inactive List by the Calgary Vipers. 

Sunday, June 6, 2010

0 for Arizona...

Well, first the good news... The Arizona road trip is over, and the Seals are heading home for games at RAP Tuesday through Thursday this week. What can be only be described as a disastrous road trip came to it's merciful end in Yuma Sunday night.

And that's the bad news... The Seals were once again unable to find the firepower needed to overcome an early deficit, falling 7-3 to the Scorpions for their 7th straight loss. In 110 degree heat, the Seals could only muster what seems to be their usual 8 hits, and committed 3 errors. Colin Moro continues to be a bright light, going 2 for 4 Sunday and ending the AZ trip 10 for 25, a tidy .400.

On the road trip, the Seals hit for a combined .249 average, with only a single home run in 7 games. They were 7 for 9 is steal attempts and continue to lead the league in swipes. Pitching took a bit of a beating, ending the week with a combined ERA of 8.941.

Lets hope the Seals can regain some of that early homestand magic this week. Game time is 7:00 each night as the visiting Calgary Vipers come to town.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Deja vu all over again

Well, it was more of the same in Yuma tonight as the Seals fell 14-8 to the mighty Scorpions, remaining winless on the road and tying a club record with their 6th consecutive loss. Victoria spotted the Scorpions an 11-0 lead before crossing the plate themselves. Kyle Wilson was roughed up early and often, surrendering 10 earned runs on 10 hits before handing the beach ball to Nick Martin in the 4th inning. Charlie Strandlund came in to help out the overworked staff and pitched another hitless inning while Chris Bodishbaugh, last night's starter, even made an appearance hurling 2 scoreless innings himself. However, the Seals' bats continue to avoid solid and consistent contact with the ball as they eked out 11 hits - most of which came in the late innings when the game was well over - while committing 4 errors.

Not sure how much longer this can go on without some sort of major lineup changes. Overall, the pitching has some bright spots (although it may not look like it from this this road trip...keep the faith!), especially in the bullpen - Arreola, Villafuerte, Pluta and Easton have been solid and despite a rough last outing, starter Jason Kershner should come good. That said, what about the sticks? Something has to be done to wake them up, as the pitching and fielding seem to feeding off their lack of consistency. The Seals are still the only GBL team not to score double digits in any game this year, with a season high of only 8 runs. As of two nights ago, they had averaged only 5.0 runs per game which was good enough for only 7th out of the 10 teams, and I suspect they may have dropped a spot or two within the last 2 nights. Overall, not good.
My mom always told me not to bring up a problem without a proposed solution. Or maybe that was General Patton. In any case how about this:
- move Perez up to leadoff until Sean Smith gets going (and I believe he will)
- give Dale Swinford a shot at the 2-spot
- add Cronin to T-Mac and Inky (Rios) at the heart of the order
- give Charlie Strandlund a couple of starts (maybe pitching!) in a row and see what happens
- keep trolling the market for other good hitting cast-offs
- maybe try wearing garters a la Nuke LaLoosh
Hey, it can't hurt, right? Let's hope the boys get fired up and avoid a complete road sweep before we welcome them back to the friendly confines of RAP. I still believe this is a talented team of both pitchers and hitters, they just need a good "wake up" game to get the confidence going again and avoid an "ofer" Arizona. Too rosy of an outlook? As Ricky from the Trailer Park Boys would say, I'm not a pessimist, I'm an optometrist.

Tonight's game saw an interesting call in the 4th inning when Colin Moro hit one to the wall and none of the umpires made any kind of call. The runners stood in limbo until it was finally declared a home run, much to the wrath of the Scorpions bench. After a conference, the umps changed the call to a ground rule double which got Kip Gross out of the dugout, to no avail of course. Skip was up again one out later when Terrance McClain was called out after an aggressive turn at first and Gross lost it once more in the 6th, screaming at the home plate umpire on a debated fair/foul call but somehow managed not to get tossed. Lou Pinella would have been proud.

And finally, a quick thanks to Mike Walker for the kind words about this blog in tonight's broadcast. Appreciate it, and keep up the good work behind the mike...uhh...Mike!

Friday, June 4, 2010

A night to forget -- unless you're Charlie Strandlund

First, the bad news. The Victoria Seals lost their fifth consecutive game on Friday night when they were demolished by the Yuma Scorpions 14-9.

Our team is still looking for their first road win of the season after playing four dismal games in Arizona this week. Friday's loss drops Victoria's record to 6-7 and they are now below .500 for the first time in 2010. The Scorpions, who had a slim 5-4 lead entering the bottom of the fifth, put the game out of reach by scoring 9 runs in that inning. The victory by the Scorpions was their eighth in a row.

Now, the good news. Charlie Strandlund came into the game to pinch hit for pitcher Aaron Easton in the top of the eight inning. After flying out, Strandlund stayed in the game and made his professional debut on the mound in the bottom of the inning. Manager Kip Gross made the move after burning through six different pitchers in the first seven innings.

Strandlund made the most of his opportunity. He retired the Scorpions 1-2-3 in the bottom of eighth, including a swinging strikeout of Bubba Garcia. On a night when Yuma clubbed 20 hits, Strandlund's inning on the hill was a nice silver lining.

Seal Blubber Bits
  • Nick Martin gave up five earned runs in 2/3 of an inning to raise his ERA to a whopping 21.86.
  • Jino Gonzalez gave up three earned runs in 1/3 of an inning and saw his ERA jump to a monumental 81.08.
  • The Seals' team ERA now stands at 6.01. I wouldn't be surprised to see a roster move or two on the pitching side in the coming days.
Editor's Note: The box score for the game published an inaccurate ERA for Jino Gonzalez. His correct ERA for the season is 8.36. Thanks to an alert reader (Tom) for pointing that out.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Toros sweep series against Seals

The Victoria Seals wasted an amazing comeback on Thursday night and eventually fell 4-3 to the Tucson Toros in 11 innings. The Seals, who trailed 3-1 after eight innings, scored a pair of runs in the ninth after having two outs and nobody on. Sean Smith reached on a base hit and then Wilver Perez smacked a single that got by Tucson left fielder Lino Garcia. By the time Garcia retrieved the ball and got it back into the infield, Smith had scored and Perez had circled the bases to tie the game.

It was pretty clear that manager Kip Gross desperately wanted the win as he brought closer Brandon Villafuerte into the game in the 8th inning in a non-save situation and then left him in to pitch three innings. Wilver Perez continued his heroics in the bottom of the 10th when he threw out a runner at home to end the inning. But it was all for naught as Aaron Easton (2-1) gave up a run in the bottom of the 11th after Anthony Pluta and Villafuerte had provided four scoreless innings of relief.

While the Seals bullpen continues to impress, the team's hitting is anything but impressive. In fact, the Seals are last in hitting in the league with a pathetic .237 batting average (a whopping 23 points behind the league's second-worst hitting teams, Tijuana and Edmonton). They continue to lead the league in steals with 28, but unfortunately it's not possible to steal first base. Let's hope our boys can turn it around at the plate soon.

The schedule doesn't get any easier for the Seals as they start a three-game series against the Yuma Scorpions on Friday night. This will be another good test for Kip Gross' squad, as the Scorpions have the best record in the GBL (10-3) and they recently swept their series against Tucson. On Thursday night, the Scorpions trailed the Tijuana Cimarrones 12-6 in the bottom of the ninth, but they scored seven runs and pulled out a miraculous 13-12 walk-off victory. The Seals have their work cut out for them.

Seal Blubber Bits
  • Sean Smith continues to struggle at the plate -- he is only hitting .137 with a meager .228 on-base percentage. Smith has only walked twice in 51 at-bats this season, although he did draw a walk in the 11th inning of Thursday night's game. It seems like he is pressing at the plate and he probably needs to be more patient and wait for his pitch. Last season, with the Somerset Patriots in the (stronger) Atlantic League, he walked 51 times in 500 at-bats. It might be time to move him down in the batting order or give him a day or two off by moving Terrence McClain to left field and using Shane Cronin at first base.
  • Many assumed that eliminating the DH in the Golden Baseball League would lead to much lower-scoring games. Last season, the league averaged a total of 12.1 runs per game. However, after the first couple of weeks of the 2010 season, the league has still averaged 11.9 runs per game with the pitchers hitting.
  • Eri Yoshida's second start of the season will be on June 12th, exactly two weeks after her first start. It's interesting that both of her first two starts will have been at home on a Saturday night. I'm starting to wonder of Yoshida will make any starts on the road or if the Chico Outlaws will want all of her starts to be at home so that they can benefit from the increased attendance. This will be something to monitor as the season progresses.
  • Ex-Seal Austin Bibens Dirkx won his fourth consecutive start for the Tennessee Smokies (AA) on Tuesday night by shutting out the Birmingham Barons over seven innings. Bibens-Dirkx only surrendered one hit and one walk while he lowered his ERA to a minuscule 2.05. Opponents are hitting a mere .156 against him this year and he sports a ludicrous 0.77 WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched). In 57 innings on the hill, he has only given up 30 hits. I'd expect the Cubs to promote him to their AAA affiliate any day now.
  • Seals alumnus Isaac Hess has been rocked in this last three starts for the Guerreros de Oaxaca in the (AAA) Mexican League. His ERA has shot up to 5.06 on the season. Since being traded from the Diablos Rojos del Mexico, Hess has given up 27 hits and 10 walks in only 16 innings pitched for the Guerreros.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Seals suffering the Tucson heat

It seems as the Seals bask in the Arizona sun this week, their bats have gone cold. The Seals dropped game two of their series against the Toros 5-1 in Tucson Wednesday night for their third straight loss.

The Seals managed only 8 hits for the second game in a row off Toros starter and 11-year MLB veteran Albie Lopez, who registered his second win. Seals starter Jino Gonzalez took the loss for Victoria, surrendering all 5 earned runs over 5.2 innings. A bright spot on the night was the Seals bullpen who worked 2.1 shutout innings giving up only a single hit.

Tucson's Veteran Ace Albie Lopez.

VSBB player of the month Terry McClain continued his torrid hitting pace, going 3 for 4 with 1 steal. Sean Smith also swiped a bag for the Seals, raising their league-high steals count to 28.

The Seals hope to avoid the sweep Thursday in the final of this three game set. Being a US ballpark, it's Thirsty Thursday at Hi Corbett field, with $1 beers, soft drinks, and hot dogs for the first 2 hours after the first pitch. Dare to dream Victoria, dare to dream...

Toros Bull Bits

  • A bit more on Albie Lopez... He was selected by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the 1997 expansion draft and anchored the Rays staff for several years. After being Tampa's opening day starter in 2001, he was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks where he won a World Series that same year. His 11 year career saw him also pitch for Cleveland, Atlanta, and Kansas City.
  • The Toros play at Hi Corbett field in Central Tucson. Hi Corbett, named after a Tuscon baseball pioneer has been around since 1927, making in one of the oldest minor league ballparks still standing. The Toros share the field with the Colorado Rockies, who have used the field each year for spring training since they were formed in 1993. Prior to that, the field was the spring home of the Cleveland Indians, who started using it in 1945.
  • Gus is all excited about having the Toros visit Victoria in August. The Toros are managed by Tim Johnson, whom many of you may remember as coach of the Toronto Blue Jays in the late 90s. Tim also coached the Boston Red Sox in '95-'96, and prior to that, none other than the Montreal Expos in '93-'94.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Toros trample Seals

The Victoria Seals lost the first game of their six-game Arizona road trip, falling 12-4 to the Tucson Toros on Tuesday night. The Tucson win snapped their seven-game losing streak.

The Toros chased starter Jason Kershner when they scored eight runs in the fourth inning. Kershner gave up eight hits, four walks and seven earned runs in his 3 2/3 innings pitched.

Colin Moro continued to swing the bat well and he collected two of the team's eight hits. Sean Smith and Charlie Strandlund struggled with 0-for-4 nights.

The loss dropped the Seals' record to 6-4 on the year. They are now in third place, two games behind the first-place Chico Outlaws.

Seal Blubber Bits
  • The Seals released outfielder Steven Wright. Wright had only made two plate appearances in the Seals first nine games.
  • Victoria re-signed outfielder Phil Ortez to replace Wright on the roster. The 24-year-old Ortez is in his first professional season after playing college baseball for UCLA. He was one of the last cuts made by the Seals in spring training this year. Ortez made his professional debut on Tuesday night and lined a base hit into centre field in a pinch-hitting appearance for Anthony Pluta.
  • Dale Swinford also made his Seals debut on Tuesday night and he got a base hit and knocked in a run in his only at-bat.
  • Going into Tuesday night's action, the Seals had a total of 26 steals on the year. That's twice as many stolen bases as the second-best teams -- Maui and Yuma had 13 steals each. Some have taken to calling the Seals the Cardiac Kids because of their knack for pulling out late-inning victories, but perhaps a more appropriate nickname is the Go-Go Seals. Back in 1959, the Go-Go Sox lead the American League in steals and used a hustling style of baseball to win the AL pennant.
  • 18-year-old knuckle ball pitcher Eri Yoshida made her GBL debut on Saturday night for the Chico Outlaws. In three innings pitched, she gave up four earned runs on five hits and one walk. Chico eventually won the game over Tijuana 8-6. To the surprise of many, she got a base hit and an RBI in her only at-bat of the night. The Outlaws front-office must have been happy with the attendance, as there were 4,414 in the stands to see Yoshida's debut. The GBL is even trying to get in on the action by selling Eri Yoshida T-shirts on their web site.

Seals release Eric Pringle and sign Dale Swinford

The Victoria Seals have released shortstop Eric Pringle and replaced him with the newly-signed Dale Swinford.

Pringle struggled at the plate for the Seals in their first home stand, hitting .136 in 22 at-bats. Last year, Pringle hit only .193 for the St. George Roadrunners.

In 2009, Dale Swinford was a teammate of Seals super-sub Shane Cronin on the Chico Outlaws. Swinford hit .285 with no homers and 22 RBIs in 65 games. Based on his .389 on-base percentage, he has a good eye at the plate. Swinford also has excellent speed, as he swiped 27 bases in only 30 attempts. This will be his second year of professional baseball.