Archive for April, 2010

Cavaliers in the Pros

April 29, 2010
  •  Javier Lopez (1998 4th round, Diamondbacks) – former college starter pitched in just 11 2/3 big-league innings for Boston last year after signing a 1-year, $1.35 million contract last January.  Has appeared in 10 games this season for Pittsburgh, posting a 3.38 ERA.
  • Andrew Dobies (2004 3rd round, Red Sox) – southpaw went 2-3 last year in 30 relief appearances for Salem (high A) and Portland (AA), striking out 42 in 44 1/3 innings with a 3.86 ERA.  Recently called up to Charlotte (AAA) after being traded to the White Sox.
  • Joe Koshansky (2004 6th round, Rockies) – first baseman spent all of last year in Nashville (AAA, Milwaukee), batting just .218 but totaling 24 HR and 80 RBI.  Marked his third straight season with 20+ HR at the AAA level Played in 35 games for the Rockies in 2007-08, hitting .180 with 3 HR and 10 RBI.  Hitting .200 with 4 HR in the 20 games this year for the Sounds.
  • Mark Reynolds (2004 16th round, Arizona) – 2009 All-Star Fan Vote finalist hit .260 with 44 HR, 102 RBI, and a MLB single-season record 223 K (breaking his own record).  7 HR, 20 RBI and 24 K in 20 games thus far in 2010.  Singed a 3-year, $14.5million contract last month.
  • Ryan Zimmerman (2005 1st round, Washington) – “face of the franchise” won the NL Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards last season at the hot corner, hitting .292 with 33 HR and 106 RBI.  Currently day-to-day (hamstring) but hitting .326 with 2 HR and 10 RBI in 14 games played.  Signed a 5-year, $45million contract last April.
  • Matt Avery (2005 9th round, Cubs) – former started appeared in 28 games for Harrisburg (AA) last year in the Nationals organization after playing 3+ seasons in the Cubs organization.
  • Jeff Kamrath (2005 11th round, Devil Rays) – righty last pitched in 2008 for Montgomery (AA), finishing his minor league career with a 7-26 record and 5.45 ERA.  Now offering pitching clinics at Total Performance in Charlottesville.
  • Tom Hagan (2006 39th round, Pirates) – former punter last played for the Hickory Crawdads (A) in 2008.  Hit .269 with 7 homers and 45 RBI in 87 games, his only season in single-A.
  • Mike Ballard (2006 14th round, Rangers) – lefty made 22 starts last year between Frisco (AA) and Oklahoma City (AAA), going 8-8 with a  3.98 ERA.  Is 2-0 in four starts this year for the RedHawks.
  • Sean Doolittle (2007 1st round, Athletics) – former college pitcher was injured most of last year (knee), but did total 14 RBI in 28 games for Sacramento (AAA) and find time to blog on mlblogs.com.  Had a breakout 2008 with 22 HR in 91 RBI for Stockton (high A) and Midland (AA) combined.  No timetable for his return, according to Baseball America.
  • Brandon Guyer (2007 5th round, Cubs) – outfielder was promoted to Tennessee (AA) mid-season last year after batting .347 in 73 games for Daytona (high A).   Hitting .283 with 8 SB in 19 games this year for the Smokies.
  • Casey Lambert (2007 6th round, Cubs) – former closer was moved to the starting rotation last year, starting one game at Iowa (AAA) after going 6-5 with a 3.95 ERA in 13 starts for Tennessee (AA).  Began this season for the Smokies on the disabled list after Tommy John surgery.
  • Beau Seabury (2007 13th round, Rockies) – catcher posted average below .240 in both 2007 and 2008 at Asheville (A), but was promoted to Modesto (high A) for the start of the 2010 season.  Hitting .160 in 9 games this year for the Nuts
  • Mike Mitchell (2007 25th round, Rockies) – outfielder hit .226 in 118 games for Modesto (high A) last season, stealing 34 bases one year after swiping 45 for Asheville (A).  Has only played in one game this year for the Nuts, going 2 for 3 with two singles and a SB.
  • Greg Mclat (2008 5th round, Orioles) – shortstop played 111 games at Delmarva (A) last year, hitting just .228 with 22 RBI and 25 steals.  Currently on the disabled list for Frederick (high A).
  • David Adams (2008 3rd round, Yankees) – second baseman split 2009 between Charleston (A) and Tampa (high A), batting above .280 at both stops and totaling 75 RBI.  Hitting .314 with 11 RBI in 18 games for Trenton (AA) this year.
  • Jacob Thompson (2008 5th round, Braves) – ‘07 All-American went 7-9 last year for Rome (A) and Myrtle Beach (high A), striking out 119 but posting a 4.25 ERA.  Mississippi (AA).  1-2 this year at Mississippi (AA).
  • Jeremy Farrell (2008 8th round, Pirates) – infielder hit .248 in 73 games for West Virginia (A).  Batting .323 with 16 RBI in 18 games this year for the Bradenton Marauders (high A).
  • Pat McAnaney (2008 8th round, Diamondbacks) – lefthander started 28 games for the Visalia Rawhide (high A) last year, going 10-8 with a 4.41 ERA and 146K in 147 innings.  Won his first start for Visalia this year and was called up to Mobile (AA).  Has gone 0-2 in two three starts with a 6.43 ERA for the BayBears.
  • Michael Schwimer (2008 14th round, Phillies) – closer went 4-2 with 20 saves out of the pen last year for Reading (AA) and Clearwater (high A) with a 7.20 ERA in 53 appearances.  0-0 with 2 saves and a 0.93 ERA in 8 appearances this year for Reading, striking out 13 in just 9 2/3 innings.
  • Andrew Carraway (2009 12th round, Mariners) – last year’s Saturday starter went 8-0 with a 2.10 ERA and 70 K’s in 64 2/3 innings in single A last summer for Everett & Clinton.  1-1 in three starts this year with 12 K in 14 innings for High Desert (high A).
  • Robert Poutier (2009 29th round, Padres) – pitched in 5 games out of the pen at Rookie level last year.
  • Jeff Lorick (2009 20th round, Braves) – has pitched in one game this season for Rome (A), after starting the season in Danville (Rookie).
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Combine All-Stars

April 21, 2010

With this week’s trade for former Rams DL Adam Carriker, the Shan-Allen-han brain trust has increased the number for former first-round draft picks on the Washington Redskins’ roster to an even more astonishing number.  Not satisfied with a roster already full of mercenaries whose career highlights came in the jerseys of their former team, the new regime also seems interested in stockpiling talent which the pride of Jarrettsville once drooled over.  Carriker is the fifth former round-1 selection acquired in this offseason alone (bolded among the list of 14 on the roster below):

  1. Donovan McNabb (1999, #2)
  2. Mike Williams (2002, #4)
  3. LaRon Landry (2007, #6)
  4. Andre Carter (2001, #7)
  5. DeAngelo Hall (2004, #8)
  6. Carlos Rogers (2005, #9)
  7. Carriker (2007, #13)
  8. Brian Orakpo (2009, #13)
  9. Albert Haynesworth (2002, #15)
  10. Santana Moss (2001, #16)
  11. Phillip Buchanon (2002, #17)
  12. Rex Grossman (2003, #22)
  13. Jason Campbell (2005, #25)
  14. Larry Johnson (2003, #27)

If there’s no last-minute Thursday night trade, the #4 pick this year will be the 15th player on the roster that was once thought of as a top-30 prospect in his class.  Also in the mix is free agent Levi Jones (2002, #10), still listed as a Redskin on nfl.com.

Perhaps more disturbing, many of this offseason’s acquisitions did nothing (absolutely or virtually) last season:

  • Carriker, Maake Kemoeatu, Josh Bidwell, Anthony Bryant, Kory Lichtensteiger, Justin Medlock, Clint Oldenburg, Ryan Torain, Lee Vickers, and Roydell Williams
  • QB Grossman had just nine pass attempts
  • RB Willie Parker rushed for just 389 yards
  • OL Artis Hicks started just three games, the lowest total since his rookie year
  • CB Phillip Buchanon had no interceptions, after totaling 7 over the prior three seasons
  • DT Howard Green had no starts playing for his fifth NFL team
  • DE Greg Peterson played in just two games
  • TE Sean Ryan played in 10 games, but caught just 14 passes
  • RB Johnson had just 581 yards, after averaging more than 1,200 over the prior four seasons

Rashawn Jackson, Quote Machine

April 21, 2010

Virginia fullback Rashawn Jackson, who is fond of writing “NEW JERU” on his gameday eye black, said before the 2009 season that he wasn’t “concerned that NFL teams have devalued fullbacks because [he was] confident Groh can use his NFL influence to promote [his] versatility.”  This week, he reflected on the “opportunities to showcase that this season, playing H-back and picking up the blitzes, and I think that was beneficial in evaluating my film and seeing they have a complete-package player.”

Jackson, who injured his hamstring, will attend a family barbeque during day three of draft because he is nervous about where he might be selected.  Despite the fact that he’s being projected to go in the 4th round at best, he has lofty goals for his career:

“My whole goal is to get in the league and have people re-think their perspective of what a fullback is.  Things change. Toyotas don’t look the same way they looked in 1992. So I figured, hey, why can’t fullbacks change and do the same? So me and other fullbacks out there can reconstruct the position.”

If you think the Toyota metaphor came out of the blue, you haven’t been listening to Mr. Jackson, who once performed a 360-degree dunk in a profanity-filled pickup game with former Virginia HC Al Groh in attendance.  Back in October, he offered this gem when describing the short-term focus the Cavaliers (then 2-0 in the ACC) had and their unwillingness to look ahead at future games on the schedule:

“When a businessman decides to start a business, he doesn’t automatically get an accountant and start estimating he’ll make upper-end millions or upper-end billions of dollars. You have to start somewhere. You have to have good credit. You have to start with the little things and pay attention to the small details. When you start looking to the future, your goals start to get out of focus and you look past what’s in the present. That’s what really gets you in trouble. We can’t afford to do that.”

Less than a month later, after losing at home to Duke amid boos from a meager crowd, Jackson channeled his inner Bill Parcells… metaphorically speaking:

“You are what you are. When you’re born, your mom either has a boy or a girl, you know? There’s no in between… Of course [there are exceptions], but how many Jamie Lees are there?”

Jackson went on to show compassion for true fans of his 3-5 squad:

“The fans that really stuck out to me were the ones screaming, ‘Rashawn! UVa! Go Hoos!’ Those were the guys that made this loss even worse, since they hung in there. I appreciate those fans, I appreciate that effort and I appreciate those people. They stayed to the end of the game, and I’m just disappointed we couldn’t help their weekend go a little more smoothly. Hopefully they aren’t getting bugged about it at work on Monday. I’m sure some of them might, and that’s even more disappointing.”

On the topic of fans, he also rubbed some the wrong way when he said “Virginia isn’t USC, Michigan, Tennessee or Virginia Tech. The fans here aren’t as patient. It’s just human nature sometimes when things aren’t going well to, you know, I don’t want to say tuck your tail, but just to turn your back.“  During his career at said program with an inpatient fanbase, Jackson:

  • was arrested on felony counts of grand larceny and breaking and entering stemming from dorm break-in and theft of an Xbox 360 (ironic?)
  • coined a new sports cliché: “Our defense is playing well. Offensively we’re not taking advantage of the opportunities we have. I feel like once we tie those knots we’ll be fine.”
  • admitted one of his favorite NFL players growing up was former 49er “Merten Hanks because he was that safety that used to do the headless chicken dance that was so funny”
  • saw the felony charges dropped after over a year in the judicial system
  • used a baseball analogy (a Groh-ism) to describe the at-the-time spread offense: “We may not hit a home run every play, but three plays of four yards gets you a first down. That’s all that matters.”

 Back to the present, and this week Jackson – who DJ’s events with his father back in New Jersey – offered a prediction for the future:

 “I don’t care if I am in the first round or if I’m a free agent. I just think I deserve a shot. I will go into someone’s camp and win a starting job. I play because I love it. I am grateful to be this close to this chance. I understand I won’t be the best player on the field in the NFL. But I know I will be an emotional leader for my team and an important part for my team and for the league. [NFL commissioner] Roger Goodell does not know me now — but he will.”

The End of Spring (Practice)

April 16, 2010

A summary of quotes from players, coaches, and the media in the days leading up to & following Virginia’s spring ‘game’ on April 12th:

HC Mike London

  •  “In December, there were fragile egos, dark cloud hanging over the guys, ‘woe is me’ type of thing. Then change occurs. Sometimes when that happens, [guys] get a new lease on life. You introduce them to new people in their life that say, ‘Look, you can’t do this.’”
  • “There’s a lot of parts we have to work on — that I have to work on. But I know the attitude part has changed.”
  • “[Morgan Moses] blocks out the sun when he walks outside. Cody Wallace is another one. They look good. I saw them today. That’s what we need. We need to recruit players like that, of that caliber, and today we had a good group of prospects out there. Winning breeds success, and we have to taste some winning around here. We’ve got to get back to doing that, and you do that by getting good players. It’s an ongoing process to recruit good players, develop the players that you have, and just stick with the plan.”
  • “The offense is such that when you throw, you throw to spots. It’s timing routes, which goes back to the precision of the routes from the wide receiver… Fall camp, opportunities with two-a-days, just have time to hone in on a few things. I think Marc will get better.”
  • “Defensively, we’ll be fairly representative of putting a good team out there – guys that can rush, guys that can cover.”

Presumed starting QB Marc Verica

  • “When you turn on the film from the first practice, it’s actually pretty amazing to see how far we’ve come. I mean, the first day, we couldn’t even complete passes on air. We were just trying to throw outs and hitches, and we were missing guys and the balls were flying into the stands and out of bounds and stuff like that and hitting people, hitting fans.”
  • “It was different this spring. It was a new chapter… I think guys are playing more confidently, and they’re playing pretty loose, which is something we may not have had always in the past.”
  • “I haven’t thrown many interceptions at all. I’ve thrown none in team drills. It just so happens today I throw two. But that’s alright. We’ve done a really good job this spring. And although it wasn’t that great today, I’m not worried about it.”
  • “I think [Virginia’s defense] could be a special unit. They’re definitely playing much, much faster. I’m lucky that I won’t have to play against them in the fall.”

OC Bill Lazor:

  • “Offensively, we’re on schedule to do just what we want to do and to be just what we want to be.”
  • “From practice 1 to practice 15, we’ve come light years.”
  • “I thought Marc had a good spring. I thought first and foremost, he bought into the system of what we’re trying to do. He showed that he’s physically and mentally capable of running the offense… I thought also that he showed great leadership, and that’s shown by the fact that he was voted a captain by his teammates.”
  • I have a real good sense from going through 15 practices that we’ll be just fine as a running football team.”
  • “The vision of offense is that you should be able to run it when you want to run it and throw it when you want to throw it.”

DC Jim Reid

  • “For a better part of this spring, the offense had moved the ball on the defense. It was just that day, it appeared [the first-team defense dominated]. There were big plays, though, made against us… I thought there were some areas that we have to clean up.”
  • “We’re far, far, far away. But it was perhaps the most fun spring football that I could remember in a long, long time, because of, No. 1, the staff. It’s as close-knit a staff as I think I’ve ever been around. And then of course the players and their attitude and their willingness to accept coaching, hard coaching, and just their lively attitude.”
  • “In the first meeting I said, ‘Don’t be afraid to make a mistake, it will be my fault if you do,’ and I was almost fired after the first practice. Because we had thousands of mistakes, but on the thousands of mistakes we were going a hundred miles an hour, and that’s what you have to do, really.”
  • “At this level, you should be at least two deep at each position with players you feel can go in and win. So we are not there yet. That’s why you recruit, and that’s why we’re recruiting very, very hard.”

TE Colt Phillips

LB-turned-DE Cam Johnson

  • “I’m a lot more comfortable now, now that I know the schemes and where the coaches want me to fit on the plays. But I still got a lot of work to do.”

Early enrollee QB Michael Strauss

  • “[My high school friends are] at home, watching TV, getting ready for the prom. I’m going down for the prom, too, so I’m excited. But they’re definitely living that senior life. I’m thankful I could be here.”

An Unhappy Oak

April 16, 2010

In Pray for Rain: A College Baseball Story, Jason Wuerfel wrote that “midweek games are tough all around; it’s hard to get up for them because you’re spent from the weekend series, neither team has any pitching left, and some of the overworked position players are usually given the day off.  In other words, the games can get a little sloppy.”

In The Road to Omaha, Ryan McGee described the regular season strategy of Fresno State in 2008: “They sacrificed victories in their midweek nonconference games… in order to save their strength for their in-conference weekend sets.”

This week, in documenting top-ranked (in at least one poll at the time) Virginia’s loss at VMI, Richmond Times-Dispatch reporter Michael Phillips described the games as “a demonstration of exactly how midweek baseball can be a great equalizer.”

Perhaps, but try telling that to the coaches.  Last month, after losing a home mid-week contest to Oral Roberts, legendary Texas coach Augie Garrido was “visible irate” said the following:

“I don’t know what they were thinking about or where they were in their own mind, but they were not focused on competing inning-by-inning, pitch-by-pitch. They absolutely abandoned the plan… You’ve got to come out and compete. When you make assumptions that something less than a best effort is good enough, then you set yourself up for what happened tonight.”

After the aforementioned VMI loss, Virginia skipper Brian O’Connor fumed: “We have some guys that need to make adjustments. Some guys are stubborn and unwilling to make adjustments, and you can’t have success in this game doing it that way.”

Dough Doughty of The Roanoke Times noted that “an animated O’Connor could be overheard raising his voice in a meeting with his team following the game,” Virginia’s worst loss in nearly two years and second to VMI in the last two meetings between the schools.

Oak told the media that “had we won tonight’s game we get bonus points from the RPI system because VMI is in the top 50 in the RPI. We lost a golden opportunity to get a top 50 win on the road. We didn’t do it.”