Thursday, February 24, 2011

Another North American League team bites the dust

Another blow was dealt to the North American (formerly Golden Baseball) League today, as the Schaumburg (Illinois) Flyers were evicted from their ballpark. This leaves the NAL Eastern Division with only five teams and one of those teams, the Lake County Fielders, is also without a ballpark in which to play the 2011 season.

It will be interesting to see how this shakes out, but don't be surprised if the entire Eastern Division of the NAL collapses and the league pushes forward with only six (sort of) former Golden Baseball League teams -- three of which will be league owned. The Parkers are looking smarter by the day.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Dane De la Rosa is fourth ex-Seal in the minors

This entire off-season, I have been under the mistaken impression that three former Victoria Seals are currently in the affiliated minor leagues. Well it turns out that there is a fourth ex-Seal and he just might be the closest one to the big leagues.

Dane De la Rosa briefly pitched for the Seals in 2009 before his contract was sold to the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs of the Atlantic League. During his July/August 2009 stay in Victoria, De la Rosa had an 0-1 record with one save and a 2.45 ERA in six relief appearances. We were impressed with his stuff when he arrived, touting him as a potential closer for the Seals. It turns out that his upside was a bit higher than we thought.

De la Rosa was signed by the Tampa Bay Rays prior to the 2010 season and he spent last year pitching for the Charlotte Stone Crabs (Advanced A, Florida State League) and Montgomery Biscuits (AA, Southern League). De la Rosa made 47 relief appearances for Montgomery and sported a nifty 9-3 record with a 1.97 ERA and 1.26 WHIP. Most impressively, he addressed what was previously one of his biggest flaws -- surrendering too many walks. De la Rosa only walked 3.2 batters per nine innings while averaging 9.3 strikeouts per nine. He was even promoted to the Durham Bulls for the AAA playoffs, but he did not appear in any games with Crash Davis' old team.

Just before Christmas, De la Rosa got the amazing news that he was added to the 40-man roster by Tampa Bay and was invited to spring training with the big club. For now anyway, De la Rosa is sharing the same clubhouse as Manny Ramirez. With an impressive spring, De la Rosa could break camp with the big club, but at the very least he'll start the 2011 season at AAA with the Bulls.

The Rays play their first spring training game on Friday afternoon against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Here is an updated list of the ex-Seals who are currently playing in the minor-league system of MLB teams:

Year(s) played for Seals
MLB organization
Likely starting level for 2011
Dane De la Rosa
Tampa Bay Rays
Austin Bibens-Dirkx
Chicago Cubs
Chris Bodishbaugh
Chicago White Sox
Advanced A
Anthony Pluta
Los Angeles Angels
Advanced A or AA

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Terrence McClain to play in Italy in 2011

The sound of "Detenuto Musica" (Convict Music) just might be resonating throughout a ballpark in Northern Italy this summer, as former Seal Terrence McClain has been signed to play for an Italian professional baseball team. T-Mac will be playing for the Godo-Verona ("North East") Knights in the Italian Baseball League (IBL). Their season is set to kickoff in April. For the Victoria Seals in 2010, McClain posted a .330 average with 14 homers and 63 RBI in 339 at-bats. For this blogger at least, T-Mac was one of the most enjoyable Seals to watch at Royal Athletic Park last season.

While some might snicker at the thought of Italian professional baseball, the league should not be discounted. There are a number of big name American players who have been lured to the league, including former Toronto Blue Jay Josh Phelps. If you are looking for a primer on Italian professional baseball, I highly recommend the book Baseballissimo by ace musician and writer Dave Bidini. Although Bidino followed a Serie B team, the Nettuno Peones, the book gives the reader a great insight into the passion that a significant number of Italians have for baseball.

We wish T-Mac all the best in Italy. Based on Bidini's writing and my own trip to Italy a few years ago, he's in for an experience that he will remember for the rest of his life.
The logo that will adorn T-Mac's 2011 uniform
Editor's note: In the last month, this blog has been read by Italians more times than from any country in the world other than Canada or the United States. We'd like to think that the Italian T-Mac fan club got its start right here...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Finding photos of Charlie Strandlund's big day

Talk about being a procrastinator. I was loading some photos onto my PC today when I realized that I totally forgot about the pictures that I took of the last Victoria Seals game, the game in which the Charlie Strandlund played all nine positions.

To document the event, I made a point of taking a photo of Charlie playing each of the nine positions. See below for the proof that ol' number 22 pulled the trick. Notice that in the picture of Strandlund in centre, outfielder Tim Rodriguez is playing second base. I also just realized that the last photo, the one with Charlie playing right field, was taken during the final inning that the Seals would ever play.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Colin Moro joins T-Rod on CornBelters

A pair of ex-Seals will be roaming the outfield for the Normal (Illinois) CornBelters this season. Colin Moro was recently acquired by the CornBelters, a team that plays in the Frontier League, in a trade with the Lake County Fielders of the new North American League. Moro will join another Seals alumnus, Tim Rodriguez, on the Normal squad.

Moro has been a hot commodity of late. The Fielders purchased Moro's contract from the Chico Outlaws just prior to shipping him to the CornBelters. The Outlaws bought his contract from the Victoria Seals (yes, they still exist as a corporate entity) less than one week ago. The Outlaws also picked up Victoria's old first baseman Matt Edgecombe in the same transaction.

Moro had a somewhat disappointing season at the plate for the Seals in 2010 after posting monster numbers for the Calgary Vipers in 2009. He hit .294 with 6 homers and 50 RBIs in 293 at-bats for the Seals. However, he did walk an impressive 50 times and was second on the team with a .423 on-base percentage.

There is no word yet on whether Colin will be sporting the same troll-like hairdo in Normal Illinois as he did in Victoria BC last summer. For the benefit of CornBelters baseball fans, let's hope so.

P.S. Colin, your presence at Royal Athletic Park will be missed in 2011.